I hate how young people behave nowadays. And I’m a young person myself.
However, I feel like I can’t relate whatsoever to how people of my age talk, act, and behave.
No, I’m not a grumpy antisocial kid. I wasn’t raised in a religious, conservative family. I’m just a normal millennial who actually has moral values.
Chances are, few people will see this post. Even less will actually read it. And yet, it’s still worth talking about one of the most crucial issues in our modern society: the lack of morality in young people.
The concept of morality, or, in other words, what is right or wrong, first started troubling me when I was in high school. That’s because that was the time when I started witnessing toxic relationships, abusive behavior, teenagers consuming immense amounts of alcohol and drugs, young people disrespecting everyone around them.
I guess that was also the time when I saw what the real world looked like.
Things got really serious when everyone around me started changing and their values started deteriorating with every choice they made.
The last victim of it all? My best friend. She used to be a shy girl, who always tried to do the right thing, always pursued serious, monogamous relationships, and was compassionate, caring, and respectful.
In the last couple of months, I witnessed her cheating on her partner, pursuing a relationship with a married man, trying various drugs, participating in a threesome, consuming liters of alcohol every day, and giving zero fucks for her family’s needs.
So maybe participating in a threesome or taking drugs/consuming alcohol isn’t exactly “wrong”. Let’s settle for morally ambiguous.
But cheating, pinning after a man with a family, and turning her back to her family?
Every time I tried to tell her that she was turning into a completely different (and immoral) person, all she would say to me was that “maybe I need to open my mind a bit more”.
So, I turned out to be the bad guy.
Anything That Gives Me a Shot of Pleasure Is Acceptable
Here’s how young people nowadays think: if something makes me happy, I’m free to do it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s morally ambiguous or if I hurt someone in between. The only thing that matters is that it makes me feel good.
In other words, anything that gives me a shot of pleasure is acceptable. And everyone trying to tell me otherwise is prude, close-minded, or simply doesn’t get me.
But, here’s the thing. We don’t live in abandoned, far from each other cabins in the woods. We are social beings. We live in a society. We need other people. We constantly interact with other beings and form relationships with them.
That means we need to think about others.
An excuse I always get from my peers when they try to justify their behavior is something along the lines “It’s my life. I’m free to do what I want and that doesn’t affect anyone”.
Well, except it does. Your actions do affect people. When you’re drunk, or high on drugs you have no control over your actions; that means you might end up doing stupid things, like cheating on your partner with a complete stranger.
If you develop an addiction to drugs, your life is immediately put in danger and something bad happening to you, will hurt your family and the people close to you.
You’re not alone in this world. Think twice about how your actions could affect others.
Having Moral Values Doesn’t Mean You’re Immune to Making Mistakes
I’m not trying to play Mother Teresa here. I’ve made my fair share of dumb mistakes.
It’s one thing to have moral values and completely another to make mistakes.
We’re human, and that means sometimes succumbing to behaviors that can be considered bad, or immoral.
A friend of mine was in a relationship for four years. As it usually happens with relationships, the love and connection between the two of them had faded. But, my friend was so used to being together, that she just couldn’t let go.
At one point, she met someone at work, got close to them, and ended up cheating on her partner.
She felt immense guilt, immediately told her boyfriend and of course, they broke up. Fast forward to today. She’s still in a relationship with this guy she met at work.
So, what do you think the moral of the story is? Does my friend lack moral values?
For me, the answer is no. First of all, she accounted for her action. She knew it was wrong. She wasn’t all like “it’s no big deal, we all make mistakes, who cares, blah blah blah”.
Second, she didn’t keep it secret. She told the truth to her partner. And finally, she never cheated on someone again.
The takeaway is, we all make mistakes. What distinguishes moral people from those who lack moral values, is the former’s ability to own their mistakes, make up for their actions and not repeat them.
Who Decides What Is Moral?
We all come from different backgrounds and are raised in different families.
That means we’ll inevitably have a different idea of what is considered moral, of what is right or wrong.
Philosophy professor Max Hocutt, has said:
“The fundamental question of ethics is, who makes the rules? God or men? The theistic answer is that God makes them. The humanistic answer is that men make them. This distinction between theism and humanism is the fundamental division in moral theory.”
So, who decides what is moral? Who determines how we ought to live?
The answer is that we do. We choose ourselves where we draw the line. And then, we pass these values to future generations.
Now, take a look at this world we live in. Do you like it? Because I don’t. And I know that I don’t just want to sit there and watch the world going to shit.
We can redefine our values. We can change the way people think and act. But we must do it together.
Values can be contagious; if you practice them, many others will, too.
Here are some crucial things I feel our society needs more of:
- Empathy — Empathy is defined as “understanding and sharing the feelings of another.” Young people need to understand that the people around them matter, that their feelings matter. They should think twice before acting in a way that could hurt another person.
- Accountability — We all make mistakes, especially during our youth. What sucks, is that a young person rarely has the courage to accept their fault. Owning their mistakes and trying to make up for them, is something that all young people should learn.
- Respect — Respect is everything. Respect for your family, respect for the elderly, respect for each and every person around you, no matter their gender, race, or sexuality. Having respect for everyone, despite the differences between us, is vital in order for a society to function well.
- Loyalty — No more cheating. No more betrayal. Staying loyal to our partners, our friends, our values. If all young people shared loyalty, the world would be so much more beautiful.
- Justice — Discrimination. Abuse of power. Sexism, Racism, Homophobia. Young people need to fight against all these things, towards a better, fair society.
What do you stand for?
Why you do what you do?
What are you leaving behind for future generations? Maybe it’s time you took a hard look at your values.
Maybe it’s time for a change.