The daunting religious tradition and an apathetic youth
As the holiday season cheered on its annual hymn, and I felt as if I should be writing upon topics of “the best winter looks under £20” or “how to get your crush to kiss you under the mistletoe,” I found myself pondering something a little less enchanting. To be frank, if your sole aspiration is to get the already angsty youth more angsty, only one topic needs to be mentioned these days. The Kardashians? No. Donald Trump? Maybe. Religion? Absolutely. Simultaneously, the older I become, the subject of religion gets touchier. We, the current generation, are living amongst a youth of total religious apathy.
Where I come from in The States, religion is celebrated; now, whether that is out of political correctness, or keeping up with appearances — which I am sure it heavily is — it is still a part of life that many people are proud of. What should be acknowledged about my South Florida suburb, is that the population has a conspicuously, colossal demographic of 65+ years old. This age gap makes the religious divide clear: there is a disparity between the religious worship of older generations and the religious disinterest in our youth. Perhaps, now being at university, a place where it is difficult to find a single soul above the age of 25 in a campus-radius, religion becomes less valued and more criticised. In all fairness, anyone today can understand why most of our youth has so decisively shut down religious thought: we live amongst a history and present-age of religious suppression.
We have seen the repercussions of a post-Holocaust society, and we now experience a terroristic society, in which radical groups use a scapegoat of religious worship. Religious intolerance has led heinous consequences, and often young adults are preached painfully-hard-to-believe Biblical tales; therefore, it is unsurprising that our youth has effectively begun to abhor religion and all that follows it. It has become a subject of utter detest, in which it has drawn majorities of youth to cling onto labels of “atheist,” or “nihilist,” or “deist,” or whatever label he or she finds intellectually fitting.
At eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty one, and so on, I find it concerning that such profound, abstract, and troubling labels occupy the minds of individuals who have such minimal life experience. My purpose is not to insult, but to shed light on the neurosis that is laced within my generation, in which everyone feels as if they need to instantaneously establish an intellectual identity, or affiliate to disaffiliate. Unfortunately, throughout generations, whenever it comes to the youth, it is always way trendier and way cooler to rebel against societal norms. As a fellow angsty young adult, I am guilty of this as well, but I can recognise the severe issue with the stigmatic nature swarming religion.
As a collective youth, I do not urge anyone to forcibly go to a place of religious worship for the holidays because I surely will not be. I do, however, subtly encourage an outlook on religion that neglects a stigmatic, text-book-based, definition. Religion has gained a stigma in which it is deemed narrow, antagonistic, archaic, and solely for traditionalists; despite this, I continue to encourage an outlook that sees a beauty in tradition, a youth that can espy the biblical wiring of most television, novels, and films flocking our society today, and a youth that can be empowered to change religion’s faults, and avoid simply shutting down what seems difficult or wrong.
We are a youth that must seek change and a hopeful future — the relationship between humanity and religion is wholly inevitable, and we have thousands of years of tradition to support that. So tell me, in the magical moment of you watching your fireplace’s flames crackling, or smell the hypnotic aroma of your mulled wine in a glass next to you, or feel the warm fuzziness of your cosy winter socks, or watch the holiday spirit wash over your family like everyone is experiencing joy for the very first time, you do not believe in anything?