Culture today is selling our kids a load of lies. Whether it’s the garbage spewed from the VMA stage (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been paying attention for the last 20 or 30 years, and which unfortunately overshadows any real skill and artistry present on that same stage) or the glossy ads holding out an airbrushed and photo shopped version of reality, we can’t count on the larger society to provide the next generation with the substance of truth. I want to dig into a few of the most prevalent lies I’ve noticed lately and talk about a few ideas you can use to reveal truth to the young people around you at work and at home. I’d love to hear from you – share your stories of how you’ve seen these lies at work and what you’ve done to share truth to light the darkness these lies perpetuate.
Lie #1* Money matters and provides safety/security.
You may have heard commercials lately about investing in gold or silver or other ‘precious metals’. They tout the downfall of the dollar and point to gold as a safe place to store your wealth because of gold’s “intrinsic value”. The argument is that your cash is just paper with an assigned value, subject to being re-valued at the whim of whatever market or political power is asserting it’s agenda. Your $100 bill is only worth a hundred dollars because that’s the value it’s been assigned. Gold, on the other hand, has intrinsic value (they say) – a value that stands on it’s own just because of the nature of the object itself (in this case, gold). The problem is, it’s just not true. Gold is only worth something because humanity has assigned it value.
Your kids probably aren’t listening to Glenn Beck talk about gold investing, though, so what’s the point here? It’s that we assign value to money/wealth as if they matter, but the truth is that all money is temporary and can’t provide any of the real security and meaning that we seek in life. Wealthy people die everyday, just like people with nothing. They get to take one expensive suit with them into a small box that will be buried, and every other shred of wealth they’ve accumulated will be given to others. But we’ve bought this lie that money matters, so we trade away our time and efforts for chunks of money called paychecks. We withdraw into offices and cubicles and work sites in order to ‘be productive,’ and we sacrifice relationships with the people we love (who actually DO have intrinsic value).
Thankfully, this lie seems to be losing some traction with younger generations. Global information, available at the touch of a few keys, has revealed a whole world of people who have next to no money, many of whom are living vibrant lives full of meaning amidst the poverty around them. This revelation has been accompanied by a hunger for meaningful relationships, so many young people are refusing to trade time with the ones they love for for money and a couple weeks of vacation each year. But even as they turn their ears from the sirens of wealth, we tell them to work hard in school so they can get into a good college so they can get a good job? What do we really mean? Are we complicit in culture’s lie that money matters? Too often, this is a lie that we adults have bought, too.
Our students don’t always handle this tension in healthy ways, as evidenced by the growing number of unemployed and disengaged youth hanging out in their parents basements playing xbox, but this re-assesment of what is really valuable leaves the door wide open for the truth of relationships: people matter. We need to teach our kids that every person matters, as they carry the image of our creator. And beyond that, we need to teach them how to develop real relationships with people who will walk through life with them as real friends and family.
Here are a few suggestions to try to do just that:
- Get outside together. We need to step away from the screens that hold our attention and go do something (almost anything) with the young people in our lives.
- Meet your neighbors.
- Spend more time at parks and areas where you’ll meet new people.
- Stop watching commercials that tell you what you need. If you really needed it, would it actually take a million dollar ad campaign for you to realize that you needed it?
- Stop borrowing money to get stuff you don’t really need.
As I look at that list, I feel like our young people are taught this lie because we’ve believed it and modeled it for them. Let’s model something else.
*These aren’t necessarily in any order of importance or anything, just how they came to mind.
Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links: