HOW should we flow with the times without getting lost along the way? That’s the question many people, especially the elderly ones, are asking these days. They know that they always have to make adjustments in the way they handle the new developments, but they want to know the parameters so they can safely cruise our increasingly dynamic world.
We cannot deny the fact that the different generations have their distinctive ways of understanding things and of coping with them. They have their distinctive sensitivities. The young ones these days, for example, are generally more exposed to the new technologies that definitely can create a distinctive behavior, manners, lifestyle etc. We should not submit them to more or less the same ways of the previous generations.
My take in this issue is that first of all, we should try our best to remain calm and to refrain from making instant reactions and rash judgments. We have to do a lot of observation, reflection and study. We may need some consultation. There definitely are fixed principles to follow, but as to how these principles are understood, applied and followed, given the changing times, that’s the challenge to face.
In other words, for us not to get lost or even confused with the new, changing and fast-moving developments, I imagine that we really have to pray, to get in touch as intimately as possible with God who in the end is the real guide, since he is on top of everything.
Without him and simply depending on our own lights, we certainly could not cope with all the complexity of the things around us. Our current culture can only do so much. The same with our legal systems and whatever social, economic or political consensus we may have regarding what is proper and improper, fair and unfair, etc.
Obviously, we have to work under some human systems, but these should always be animated by a vital contact with God, with his spirit, with his will and ways, his laws and commandments.
This is a big challenge because many people today are unaware of the need to have a living relationship with God, let alone, having the proper attitude, practices and skills in how to get in contact with God. The usual practice is simply to rely on one’s own criteria and standards.
There is definitely a need for some massive catechesis, but of the kind that would really address the issue properly. It should not just be a repeat of the rote type of catechesis. It should not just dwell in the general principles and doctrines but should go deeper to the finer points and nuances of these principles and doctrines.
The problem that we sometimes meet is that many people are still ignorant of the basic moral principles and doctrines. These should be taught first before the finer points are brought up.
To be sure, there will always be a need for updating and consultation so that our moral and spiritual criteria and standards are made finer and more relevant to the concrete issues of the times.
For example, to know how much time we should spend in the Internet, what guidelines can we have regarding the use of the cell phones, etc.—these things vary according to the circumstances of the persons involved. Yet, in spite of the growing variety that can be expected in this regard, we should come out with some general rules.
This is not an easy task, and it would be most welcome if some people can dedicate more fully in studying this issue in a systematic way. They may just be a group of parents who meet regularly, compare notes and come up with some guidelines. Or they can form some kind of think tank dedicated to this task. I believe there is a great need for this type of work.