In parks and on stoops
they sit with idle minds
In cars and on trains
they chase the moon
Ki Gavar Oyeiv
Devastation to our youth
Al Eyleh Ani Bo’Chiya…
HaRav Solomon, Shlitah, Mashgiach of Beth Medrash Govoha, addressed a conference of rabbis and teachers many years ago. He cried over the fact that in our times we see the fulfillment of the horrible prophecy, “precious jewels will be strewn on the corners of the streets.” Now we know what was promised, stated Rav Solomon, precious souls strewn literally on street corners.
Hashem gave us the Aseres Hadibros – Hashem knew us better than we knew ourselves. Nothing new is happening in the base desires facing our people. Except that temptation is no longer whispering. It’s beckoning from every street corner and every city bus that passes with lewd pictures flashing. It’s there in the classroom, in the form of the kids who pushed open the gates of prohibition to indulge in egotistical, forbidden behavior. It’s in your neighbor who will do anything to get a bit more of physical pleasure. It’s a constant drone of TV, movies, videos, songs, magazines….and on and on, all brainwashing us to an abhorrent lifestyle. It is the people who tell us we won’t lose our Yiddishkeit when we pursue the all American dream life – then can’t help us as we get lost in the great American dream. They only push pills at that point, anti-depressants, uppers, downers…
There were two teens I know whose life has been a series of tragedies, which they used as a good excuse to hit the slippery slope of street life. The two of them had a conversation they indulged in every few hours. “I feel like bashing my head against a brick wall,” one would start with, as an opening line. Why the urge? Because they felt that other teens who had not yet hit the streets envy them for their loose, wild life. “If they only knew how miserable our existence,” they groaned to me. I tried convincing them it is not fait accompli, that theycan still turn back. Yet, I know, as probably you know as well, the slide down is infinitely easier than the climb back up. Hopefully, they’ll climb out of the sewer-style life they now rot in. Yet, these two find it hard to stomach the prospect of more teens joining the underlife.
One of the teens who died of a drug overdose spent hours counseling his friends not to begin dating, not to even start minor infractions, using his life as an example of the one jump to another problem. “For me,” he would say, “it’s too late. I’m addicted. Don’t you start.” His death shook up his friends. I wish it would have shaken up the world. This is where it all leads to, the never-ending quest for “fun”.
Daven for your friends and your friends’ children. Daven for the generation. We need extra strength to deal with the mess of society in which we have to reside. Teens cut themselves, starve themselves, force themselves to vomit to match some image some diseased people decided is ideal. “What size is she?” becomes a topic of discussion, instead of Middos. “He has great glasses” is a higher rating than “He volunteers.” A generation in obvious need of healing. Everything today revolves around the body and its image and the gratification of base physicality.
At a certain point in time I started pointing out the end destination of those who started on that road to nowhere. I would point out to the teens who I mentored those “losers” who had been the initial at-risk teens. Those who didn’t make it back and turn their lives around ended up in their 30’s, 40s, and 50s as sad, old, depressed, often homeless nutcases. There was one with AIDS, one living in a basement storage area, one in a homeless shelter. While their “nebby” friends who stayed on the Derech are marrying off children, getting Nachas, have stable lives. Many of the teens thought I made these stories up. Do yourselves a favor. Track down those “glamour players” who pushed the envelope when they were young. I’m quite sure you will be able to show your kids that getting on that fast train to nowhere delivers folks to destinations no one wants.