Rod Dreher

A UK reader writes with a reflection on Tory Party leader David Cameron’s Easter message. The reader writes:

Despite the fact that he is an Anglican Christian of sorts, and the message was issued on Good Friday, he made no mention of darkness, sin, weakness, reflection, redemption, resurrection. It was the standard “can’t we all just get along” upbeat boilerplate that could have been issued for almost any religious festival. He did not, for example, ask us to reflect on our own responsibility for the recession (UK consumer debt – i.e. not including mortgage repayments – now stands at about £1.4trillion, or over US$2trillion. That’s about the same as our GDP, and twice our National Debt). He did not talk honestly about the coming decade of austerity or the problems facing the welfare state, notably the huge imminent increase in long-term care costs for the elderly (itself partly due to our high abortion rate), or talk seriously about the fragmentation of society.
I think the main problem here is that, to make a huge generalisation, “we are all teenagers now”. I can think of at least five characteristics which are widespread among adults in the West, which have serious sociological consequences, and which used to be largely confined to teenagers, or if manifested in adults were seen as evidence of immaturity and lack of moral development.

1. Materialism
2. Solipsism
3. The reluctance to take account of the wisdom of the ages, and indeed an extremely hostile attitude to tradition in general
4. The thoughtless rejection of religion.
5. Sensuality, i.e. the love of pop music and intoxication, and an excessive interest in sex.

In a way, of course, I can’t blame Cameron for not challenging us about our social habits: the other teenage habit we have as a civilisation is that we hate being told we’re wrong, and would much rather storm off in a huff than think constructively about our responsibilities and duties.
I’m not the first person to note that adolescence now seems to stretch from about 10 years of age to around 35, and the causes are more complex than simply “moral decline”, but I think it is a deeply odd and disruptive phenomenon that needs more attention than most opinion-formers are willing to give. Libertarians blame “infantilisation” on state interference, and that is true to an extent, but the free-marketeers and libertines have contributed to the problem just as much.

Discuss. Remember, this is no longer a political forum, so let’s not talk about this in terms of “Tories bad, Labour good,” and so forth. The reader offered this reflection to me as a follow-up to my post the other day in which I talked about how frustrating it is to find leaders (political, religious, and so forth) who have such a hard time telling the straight truth about things. Maybe things have to get so bad (as they had done in the OCA) that they’re on the verge of falling apart before people start to value hard truths being spoken by those in power.

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