Throwing out the rules

Nuclear power is a pretty dangerous thing. Even if you can’t see radiation, acute radiation poisoning can kill you very quickly. The nuclear Navy that I grew up in had a whole set of rules that safeguarded you from radiation poisoning and contamination. Not all of them made sense the first time you heard them, but over time you quickly realized that they worked and kept you safe.

This bears a striking similarity to the Catholic Catechism. The rules were built over a long period of learning in the Church, and they helped keep people from getting hurt. Simple things like saving sex for marriage and receiving the Sacraments regularly kept people’s physical and mental health safe.

But hey, we had to screw it up. Timed perfectly before Halloween, there were a variety of stories about how the incoming generation was ditching Christianity for paganism. Two particular pieces stuck out to me. The first was from Quartz:

“When thinking about what it means to me, a witch is a woman who worships herself as her own god. She is the creator of her own life, the healer of herself,” says Maura Dillon from Chicago, who brings meditation practice into schools. She had a tarot-card reading four years ago and fell hard for the powerful message of the occult. “We live in this time where social structures, institutions, and organized religion is failing us massively. That’s why I was drawn to it initially, because I didn’t feel like I was drawn to any of those mainstream ideologies.”

The second was from The New American:

The simplest answer, however, was found in something else the College Fix related: “‘I think one of the things that really helped solidify for me that Paganism was the path for me was the almost complete freedom I had,’ the vice president of the Pagan Student Union at the University of Baltimore told Inverse. ‘There is no one holy text we all must read, there is no organized church service which is mandatory to attend, there is no concept of original sin or any pressure to be perfect people. Paganism is exactly what you want it to be.’”

Both pieces reflect a growing narcissism in our younger generation. Instead of trying to learn rules and boundaries and understand why they are in place, our young people are content to throw them all out and run wild with a “religion” that makes you your “own god” and “is exactly what you want it to be.” That’s not religion. That’s anarchy.

My worry is this: as these young people rely on more and more anarchy to justify acting how their feelings dictate, where does it stop? Is this part of the reason we have people that are OK with beating others that didn’t vote a certain way? Rather than being called to love our neighbor, even when we don’t want to, young people instead are going with whatever their emotions dictate. Emotions in themselves aren’t evil, but as rational beings (the whole rational thing that sets us apart from animals), we are supposed to learn to control emotions through established rules. That sets up our society and civilization, plus allows us to get along with others that don’t think or look like us.

Just like nuclear power, rules exist to keep us safe. And just like nuclear power, we are free to ignore the rules, but we tend to get burned when we do so.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

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