“The Master said, He who sets to work on a different strand destroys the whole fabric CONFUCIUS, Analects II. 16”
“For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139: 13
I remember having to go through the school book of a young student aged 11 and having to find a section which had points under the title of disadvantages of a large family to the society and the economy. It had large families as a petri dish in which illiteracy, poverty and violence grows. I happen to come from a large family and the disadvantages mentioned in the school book were in no way applicable to my experience.
When I read the abolition of man, I could immediately connect with the scene of the effect of “The Green Book” on the school boy´s mind and was surprised to find that the same general aesthetics has persisted till this day to effect an operation on the mind of the young.
Lewis writes that;
“They write in order to produce certain states of mind in the rising generation […] For the whole purpose of their book is so to condition the young reader that he will share their approval”
The ideologists of today sets out to sow a propaganda or an ideology in the youth taking advantage of their innocence using a set of values to condition the young mind of the students. He compares the new system of education of the ideologists as the poultry keeper deals with young birds – making them thus or thus for purposes of which the birds know nothing, while the old dealt with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly.
Lewis starts by saying that “I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of elementary text-books”, but I think we have to doubt if we are sufficiently active in the formation of young. The effect of the operation behind the “The Green Book” could only be possible if we have failed to educate the kids, if we have failed to propagate the noble desires and instincts in them thereby leaving them vulnerable to the various propagandas.
The effect of “The green book” works under the anesthesia of the vulnerability of the young and I think that on a broader scale, it works under the anesthesia of our indifference and dawdling. Our delay preempts the present-day abolition of man
The epigraph by Confucius clearly shows that different people set to work on the fabric of man with different threads of ideologies and only end up destroying man. How can we keep the whole fabric integral and free from this destruction? I think if we set out to work early enough on the tapestry of man only from the “organic” thread proper to it, then we provide no space for another thread (ideology) to set at work on it.
Just like the healthy person with a well-developed immune system that is capable of self-defense against foreign bodies that invades it, so also will a timely formed youth be capable of rejecting foreign ideologies.
To continue with the knitting of the youth outside the mother’s womb, we have to continue with the thread set out by the creator. Any other thread would not be in keeping with the truth of his integrity. It will not be a propagation but rather a propaganda.
“So he sent the word to slay and slew the little childer. – Carol
The epigraph of the first chapter of the Lewis´ book is an extract from a carol which shows the word sent by Herod and the children being executed for that very word. It shows the innocents and innocence being destroyed. If we go back to the origin of that story we would see that a child was saved because a word was sent earlier by an angel to his parents. Can we not send word earlier to the youth … can we not be more proactive?
This brings to the theme of the formation of the youth most especially as the synod for the youth gets closer. I strongly think a lot more attention and urgency need to be paid to the formation of the young.
When I work with parents of school kids, I do remind them of the urgency of the formation of their kids and that any delay leaves the kids to be formed by other sources. It is a formation in which if we don’t build up the ideals on time then we certainly make them vulnerable to the propagandas. A starved formation makes the youth easier prey to the deformation that rears it heads.
We have been called to form consciences and not to replace them. Amoris Laetitia 37
One of the themes much talked about these days has been about conscience. We all know the role of the conscience in the moral life and its sacredness with all its complexity, but I wonder how seriously we are taking the indication of the Pope. A lot has been said about the youth and and all, but I see little push towards the direction of the formation of the youth. Most of the lofty ideals sought out by the youth have not met adequate response in their formation. The youth wants to be happy, they want the truth, they want to love truly, they want to live out their freedom in truth, but sadly, their education in these ideals have not matched up their equivalent desires for it, leaving them vulnerable to a distorted idea.
In a recent article by Archbishop Chaput titled; “Catholics need Faith and Reason, Not a New Paradigm” , he warns that we have at least two generations of poor catechesis and very inadequate conscience formation. He proposes a strong formation in the commonly held truths of the catholic church for a healthy conscience. He proposes no new paradigm but rather calls forth faith and reason.
A strong Faith and the ability to reason and think clearly are both in consonance with man and every youth need a growth in both directions to have a well-formed conscience.
How much of catechesis, apologetics and formation will be discussed in the synod. The synod speaks of its willingness to listen to the youth, I hope they do hear this voice that cries out for the urgency of the formation of the youth in the eternal truths of the Christ taught by the church. We need no new paradigms or slogan, just form us and we will be able to ride the storms of the challenges that beset our times.