We live in a time of uncertainty, fear, and ignorance about the problems facing society, nations, and the planet. We live in a time of instantaneous communication, often leading to distrust, polarization, and superficiality. Science – and especially its derived technologies – has given us immense powers to cause physical and psychological change, destruction, chaos, and even self-annihilation. Single individuals can now wield immense power, be it for terrorism, ideology, or personal gain.
We no longer have societally-sanctioned rites of passage for citizens, such as the Eleusinian rites practiced in ancient Greece. We constrain and often condemn most means of expanding consciousness and mental well being. We have decreased moral, ethical, and civics education in our public schools due to state legislatures and parents arguing that such education is not ‘appropriate’.
Youth are concerned with the societal and planetary problems and issues which their adult parents seem unable to address. Youth are concerned about the deteriorating state of the planet and of its societies – and very concerned for their own future.
Music, poetry, literature, and drama are effective means of expanding consciousness, presenting realities, and empowering empathy and creativity. Protest songs come immediately to mind. Novels have been especially effective: Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Sinclair’s The Jungle, and Huxley’s not very well known Island.
We are attracted to novels, songs, and theatre addressing these challenges. Young adult novels and films dealing with dystopian as well as utopian systems are particularly popular today.
Media which deal with critical thinking, reality, cognitive liberty, creativity, and empathy are especially needed to help reorient our current states of distrust, fear, uncertainty, and ignorance. Specific examples include Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (followed by his more Utopian Island), Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and many, many more – including attempts to treat impending dystopia: State Change – A Chemical Fantasy ( www.statechange.us ) ‘uses’ biochemistry to ‘treat’ empathy deficit disorder (EDD) and ideology paralysis.
Talk with your kids. They read, they know, they fear.