For many years I taught junior high. In that time I observed that the kids were a reliable barometer of what was happening in societal norms of the time. I was in the daily presence of thirteen year olds from the seventies to the mid-nineties. Those seventies babies were restrained, polite, respectful with a genuine value for, and interest in their nuclear families and family life. The nineties babies evolved to be kids who were challenging, bold, often brash, focused on self and supremely influenced by what their peers had to say above anyone else’s opinion. There could be endless debate about which is “better” but that’s not the point of this essay. One thing, however, stands out for me as I watched the most recent generation that I had contact with, and that’s: DRAMA. The nineties kids did not have problems, concerns or worries that were a lot different from their seventies predecessors. The way they reacted to the situations, though, was shaped by a world of difference.
It seems that this modern crop of kids values drama like no other generation that I have seen before. It almost doesn’t matter if the story that’s being told is the truth or not. What matters is the drama. The one who tells the most elaborate story, complete with floods of hysterical tears and threats of self-deprecation is the one who wins. In a twist that you might be surprised at, I propose this attraction for drama hides meaning that is far beyond the fuss and attention getting that the immediate incident presents.
Drama is only a symptom of an unspoken, deeper, longing. “The drama of the world today is the result not only of the absence of God but also and above all of the absence of humankind, of the loss of …human destiny and identity…” (Pope Francis as Jorge Mario Bergoglio) The drama of our young people is really a wail that contains all of these and more: Who am I, why am I, does anyone love me, does anyone care about me, is God real, am I worth anything at all, will anyone defend me from the world? The noise of the drama is simply a distraction from the fact that not many of our young people have the slightest idea about how to answer any of those deeper questions; the mysteries which fuel our deepest life and best person. In truth, there is only one place where they can be answered and that’s in the intimate presence of an ever loving and caring God. “[W]e possess within us a yearning for the infinite….which [can only be] satisfied by a total response [to God] that saves the entire horizon of the self and our existence.” (op.cit.)
So when you’re friend, child, or acquaintance explodes into a drama worthy of Hollywood learn to look past what you’re hearing and seeing. Understand that the drama is really a clueless attempt at quieting the mystery that niggles incessantly in each of us. If we talk loudly enough and fuss publically maybe the mystery will quiet itself and just go away? Maybe others will leave us alone? Not a chance! Don’t be distracted by the noise and simply be the tour guide to the solution whenever you have been given that opportunity.