The Bored Generation

The rise of the mobile phone and the development of social networking sites, resulting in the Facebook and Twitter generation, have led to a large increase in unhappiness and loneliness. The modern way of life for many young people has caused boredom to escalate. Never have there been so many words spoken and conversations made only for all that effort to have a negative return. As you walk down the street, pass through a store, stand at a bus stop or sit in a café, voices are raised in conversation; many seem to be speaking inordinately loud, as if their partner at the other end is deaf. The average monthly bill for my mobile is about £3.50; I would be worried if it were more! The scriptures say: “There is sin in the multitude of words.” [Proverbs 10:19]. The Living Bible translates it thus: “Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow! When a good man speaks, he is worth listening to, but the words of fools are a dime a dozen.”

35% of a recent adult survey shows that 16 to 24-years olds are bored with their lives; more than 28% of that age group said that it was loneliness that was making them unhappy. They also cite that only better or improving relationships could cure or solve their misery.  Three out of ten also said they were unhappy struggling to find a job and the same number thought they could find happiness abroad. When the whole survey was analysed of all age groups the average level of happiness was 6 out of ten or 60%, which means they are just over halfway to being happy! 63% of all age groups reckoned they needed to earn £40,000 to be happy. It probably wouldn’t make them happy, but why sour an already marginal life with negative talking? It was Bertrand Russell who said:  “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.

Winston Churchill, when reaching the end of his life said, “I’m bored with it all,” and he probably was, he lived a long time, did many things, reached his final destination, and had had enough, but possibly he was the greatest Briton who ever lived. I reckon when you get to that stage in life, life is virtually over. However, Jerry Bridges said, “Every day is important for us because it is a day ordained by God. If we are bored with life there is something wrong with our concept of God and His involvement in our daily lives. Even the most dull and tedious days of our lives are ordained by God and ought to be used by us to glorify Him. [Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts].

After my late wife died I received a booklet though the post to tell me how to know that someone was dying, a bit late though it was, it was interesting. Three things become uppermost in their lives, a disinclination to eat, thus a weight loss, a loss of worldwide vision; an exploring mentality disengaged and a general loss of personal interest in current happenings. Thus a disinterest in anything. They begin to withdraw, almost like permanent boredom.

When she died I faced a lonely existence, for I had nursed her for 47 of our 54 years together and that constant care left its mark on me. I suddenly found the TV was on more as I filled the home with voices, any voices it didn’t matter, and I was repeatedly going out to Kingston near where I lived to walk and mix amongst society of all forms in many ways. I needed to fill my life with company and sounds, the quietness disturbed me. I had forgotten God and the sweet meditation that made my life what it was. I realised I was bored with having nothing to do, the object of my love, attention and pity had gone. I began to pity myself, a bad action indeed.

I turned to God, which was a wise move, and in that daily meditation found peace again. No one said anything of note that affected me except God’s living word. I gave myself back to seeking God, and found in the preparation of the living word for sermonising, relief and sanity again. All the talking, friendship and alliances mattered little, it didn’t reach the depths of my soul only God could do that. It was not in the multitude of words, but in the quietness of a sovereign God who dispensed His peace that passes understanding. Within six months I had found security in relationship with God Almighty again. Life could begin again, hope beckoned, my life was alive in the depths of interest sponsored by the Holy Spirit of visions beyond. Why not try it in the midst of your boredom and unhappiness.

 

Tears

In 2008 at a zoo in Munster, Germany, a gorilla named Gana gave birth to a male infant, who died after three months. The Daily Mail declared “Crowds thronged the zoo to see the grieving mother,” who looked stricken and inconsolable as she cradled her dead baby. But, sad as the scene was, it was the humans who cried for there is no scientific basis that animals can weep. “Years of observations by the primatologist Dian Fossey, who observed gorillas, and Jane Goodall, who worked with chimpanzees, could not prove that animals cry tears from emotion.”

It is true that many mammals shed tears, especially in response to pain, for tears protect the eyes by keeping them moist, for they contain antimicrobial proteins. However, Jeffrey Moussaief Masson and Susan McCarthy, authors of “When Elephants Weep,” admitted most watchers have never seen them weep. But Michael Trimble says “crying as an embodiment of empathy is, I maintain, unique to humans and has played an essential role and the development of human cultures.”

Babies can imitate facial expressions at two days and can cry, and often do, consistently in the first few weeks as their tears demand attention and establish a pattern of feeding behaviour with their parents. They can of course cry without tears as many parents have found out to their frustration. “As we get older, crying becomes a tool of our social repertory: grief and joy, shame and pride, fear and manipulation.”

Men cry less than women usually, and mostly at home, in the early evening, with a friend or close companion who also cries. It appears that women tear-up between 30 to 60 times a year, while men well up between 6 and 17 times per annum. Several presidents of the United States, in their presidential term, teared up in public. Sports personalities are also often reduced to tears after winning: man or woman, it doesn’t matter! Darwin concluded that crying occurred less in Britain than in non-Western countries, and it was determined that, across 37 countries, Americans, Germans and Italians are more prone to tears than Bulgarians, Chinese and Peruvians, and people from wealthier counties with moderate climates cry or admit to crying more frequently.

I like watching Andre Rieu who leads his orchestra playing wonderfully and entertaining the assembled crowds from country to country. Often the camera will pan over the audience and one can see that both men and women are reduced to tears at the music. This belies the often held theory that tears are a sign of grief or pain, although of course they can be and do underlie the story of life with situations that are inexplicable and almost unbearable; the death of a loved one, the loss of a company or the announcement by a doctor that we have cancer. Gross disappointment, fear of pain and abject loss of any kind.

In the Taming of the Shew, Shakespeare says: “And if the boy have not a woman’s gift to rain a shower of commanded tears, an onion will do well for such a gift.” Thus to avoid dry eyes a widow would hide an onion in her handkerchief lest their bereavement was underestimated. Such manipulation is so sad for grief takes many forms, which no one understands. There was such a woman in Jesus’ day. As he sat at meat she burst in and wiped his feet with her hair as her tears mingled with the anointing ointment. Tears of joy for forgiveness extended, tears of happiness for a life changed and a new future ensured, tears of peace that she was made new and clean again. Hallelujah!

The whole basis of Christianity is one of common tears, for it is said in Psalm, 23 “He comforts me” that word ‘comfort’ means ‘to sigh with’ to reduce to tears if need be. Many times when praying for people in the services I find myself in tears as words seem meaningless such is their plight. To cry with is to comfort, little else is needed; compassion bestowed and sympathy extended realistically.

Jesus was touched by a man who had a son who threw himself continually in the fire, so He said this:  “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’ ” [Mark 9:23, 24]. The tears did it. The child was healed.

Jesus was eprimanded by Mary and Martha because he had not come at their summons, asked where Lazarus lay dead, and seeing their grief and disbelief it is recorded that “Jesus Wept” [John 11:36]. Those were the tears of the Lord of resurrection; they believed in the ultimate resurrection in some distant time, Jesus was saying “I am the resurrection — NOW.”  He wept over their disbelief, my prayer is that He will have no tears except of joy because we believe now that He exhibits the power of resurrection and we believe it – our Lazarus’s will arise indeed.


Flight 77

A Chaplain, who happened to be assigned to the Pentagon, told of an incident that happened right after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon on 9/11. A daycare facility inside the Pentagon had many children, including infants   who were in heavy cribs. The daycare supervisor, looking at all the children they needed to evacuate, was in a panic over what they could do.  There were many children, mostly toddlers, as well as the infants who would need to be taken out with the cribs. There was no time to try to bundle them into carriers and strollers.

Just then a young Marine came running into the centre and asked what they needed. After hearing what the centre director was trying to do, he ran back out into the hallway and disappeared. The director thought, “Well, here we are, on our own.” About 2 minutes later, that Marine returned with 40 other Marines in tow. Each of them grabbed a crib with a child, and the rest started gathering up toddlers.

The director and her staff then helped them take all the children out of the centre and down toward the park near the Potomac. Once they got about 3/4 of a mile outside the building, the Marines stopped in the park, and then did a fabulous thing – they formed a circle with the cribs, which were quite sturdy and heavy, like the covered wagons in the Old West. Inside this circle of cribs, they put the toddlers, to keep them from wandering off. Outside this circle were the 40 Marines, forming a perimeter around the children and waiting for instructions. There they remained until the parents could be notified and come and get their children.

The Chaplain then said, “I don’t think any of us saw nor heard of this on any of the news stories of the day. It was an incredible story of our men there.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  The thought of those Marines and what they did and how fast they reacted; could we expect any less from them? It was one of the most touching stories from the Pentagon.

Good news is rarely heard on modern newscasts, as it is filled with violence, death, greed, miss-planning, political unrest, savage hurt to one another, sexual indiscretion and financial exploitation. Cheer and good deeds seem to be a scarcity. It was therefore refreshing to read the above account and also on Christmas Eve to attend a service at Renewal in Solihull.  I met my younger brother who was there quite early, as I was, but my earliness was to secure a parking space!

He said he left home at 9:30pm which was unusual for he lives two roads away and would be able to travel the distance in about 5 minutes; the service wasn’t until 11:00pm. As he entered his car the Holy Spirit spoke to him and asked if he had his hospital card [he is Chaplain to several hospitals] he said yes and the Spirit gave him instructions to a ward and bay number in Solihull Hospital. As he entered he was greeted by a couple with their daughter who was severely ill and who attended his church. They were surprised and asked why he had come as they had not requested a Chaplain he said “God bought me here to pray for you” A monk three beds away heard this and requested David pray for him.

In David’s case good news follows him as he responds to the Spirit of God, and obeying His instructions arrives at situations of God’s making, never usually heard of but a catalogue of good and God in people’s lives.

On Boxing Day I was out shopping and noticed the sale of Christmas cards at half price for next year, so I bought some and realised I had inadvertently advertised I would be alive to send them – by faith, good news I thought. As we enter the New Year let us pray that we can impart good news and spread abroad joy and fulfillment in the lives of others. Pessimism is, unfortunately, our second nature, but with God “all things work together for good.” We’d better believe it! Many need help to realise that daily situations are optimized by God for our benefit and the blessing of others. Sometimes we can be accused of being a tad too confident for reason, but with God, why not?

Finally “‘what day is it?’ ‘It’s today’ squeaked piglet. ‘My favourite day’ said Pooh”.