Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel great sadness for the way the World is going and that sadness feels like your soul is under a physical attack. This happened to me whilst I was preparing to launch the Slanting-N and it helped to spur me on to start this blog. It started on a Wednesday as I walked home from a trip to town and there was a group of teenage girls walking near me on their way to school and every other word they said was a swear word and I just wanted to turn around to them and say something but I didn’t. Instead I wondered whether they spoke like that at home and whether schools had changed so much that swearing had become common place in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong as I remember acting big and swearing when I was a teenager but this felt different, this sadly flowed in such a natural way that I imagine that they might struggle to hold a conversation without swearing.
But then the next day as I walked past another school for children between the ages of 8 and 11, a school which I had gone to back in the 80s, I got hit by the full gamet. There were young children using language which my mum would have told me off for and the parents were using the same language when speaking to their children. There was a mum screaming at her children as they left the house and groups of parents with their children taking up entire pathways and expecting those coming towards them to go in to the road to go around them rather than dropping briefly into a line to share the path. Now in fairness not all parents were like this but there appeared to be more parents who wanted to walk over you than to share the path. And just to give you more of a picture, I walk with a stick due to health issues but that didn’t matter at all
Now look, I am not having a go at parents, I cannot speak as I am not or have ever been a dad and I can appreciate how stressful getting children to school on a busy day can be. But what I am saying is that with every expletive, with ever cuss, with every scream, with every moment of rudeness it felt like a knife being thrust deep in to my soul. And maybe I was having a really sensitive moment but as I got closer to home I was close to tears, in fact I am not ashamed to say that as I was typing this I had to stop because I was crying. I was crying because of the way this World is going, tears because I know there are children who are not taught about Jesus in school any more and to be honest a sense of hopelessness because as someone who is not a parent I felt like I couldn’t speak, in truth I wanted to scream at them to think about the language they were using.
I know there will be some who might read this and say so what, this is normal now get use to it. But think about this for a second, this wasn’t normal when I went to school 30 odd years ago when I was told off in school if I got caught swearing, I was told to respect others as I walked along and yes in school I was taught about Jesus. So maybe this is the new normal but I dread to think what the new normal is going to be in 30 years time.
It is why firstly we all need to lead by example whether a parent or not, living a life which stands out from the “new norm” and makes people think about the way they live their lives. But we also need to pray, we need to pray for the schools in our towns, for the teachers, the care staff, the children, their families and anyone else who has a part to play in the guidance of young people and that includes Christian youth leaders. We need to ask God to watch over these schools and children, to use us and others they may encounter to learn about Jesus and for the young people, this next generation of parents and workers, to understand the language they use and the way they act not only reflects on them but has an impact on those around them both those who are older like me and those younger who will copy them.
And so I ask all those who come here whether parents, teachers, school governors, children or even those who have never been parents to pray with me, to pray for the schools where you live, to pray for the teachers, the children and their families because prayer can make a difference even when at times we feel like we can’t.