Nihilism & Idealism
There is a very old concept that is gaining momentum. I hear its mandates coming disturbingly from the mouths of our babes. The concept is nihilism. Nihilism, according to Google, is the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless. Yeah! This is really a concept some of our children embrace, but why? Why would an 11 year old believe that life is meaningless?
Not to oversimplify, but children are still in the early phases of development. They must be shown and taught what life is really about and how to handle the sad, painful, and disappointing parts, as well as enjoy the happy, soothing, and pleasurable parts. However, many of us place sorrow, hurt, and displeasure as adult conditions. Now, there is nothing wrong with protecting your child and trying to make his or her life as perfect as possible. However, when you submerge children in a vacuum of dream fulfillment while never introducing them to the negative aspects of everyone’s life, you set them up for a miserable life. Think of it this way: As my granny used to say, “Sometimes a child needs to be told, 'No'…just because they need to be told, 'No'.” I did not understand at the time. Now, I do.
Moreover, this can apply to any gender, culture, or economic strata. Consider “Perry,” a fictional 11 year old African American boy who attends the most prestigious private school in the city. He is used to getting what he wants, always coming in first, making the best grades, and being the leader of his class. So, when he fails to make the basketball team, he is distraught. Instead of using that event as a teaching moment, Perry’s parents berate the coach, spread untruths about him to other parents, report him for being unfair, and get Perry on the team. Perry is not sad anymore. A week later, Perry is not picked by his classmates for Dance King. Once again, he is extremely hurt. Perry’s parents complain about the criteria used to choose the court. Suddenly, there is a King and Prince.
Perry is not being allowed to face disappointment. He feels invincible!
How will he know how to face it when his parents cannot control a situation?
When that day comes, Perry will not know how to learn from a loss, or failure,
or defeat. He will not know how to rebound. And that day did come.
Perry's girlfriend dumped him. This 11 year old who has always gotten what
he wants is now hurt, confused, and disillusioned. Therefore, life seems
meaningless. Additionally, considering how his parents were getting him the
things he wanted, Perry may also be extremely shaky on the moral and values
The fictional Perry needed training and teaching, as all children. Without it, life can be a series of pointless adventures.
Now, consider the fictional “Sara.” She is the opposite of
Perry. She is an 11 year old Caucasian girl attending a failing
public school. She rarely gets anything she wants, and barely
has her needs covered. She is a below-average student who
usually comes in last. So, every failure is a forgone
conclusion. Sara sees her life as a string of nothingness.
However, her parents have not taught her that although her
life is not perfect now, it can get better. Her parents never
used her failures to teach patience and determination. So,
although fictional Sara and Perry have very different lives, they
both live in a state of worthlessness.
Children must be introduced to LIFE: the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. This can only be done effectively through the teaching of faith. Faith is a strong belief or complete confidence in something. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen; and Romans 10:17 instructs, So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Now, children may not be ready to read the Bible, or may not want to. So, parents or guardians or significant adults have to become the living embodiment of the Bible. Children must be taught faith through the behaviors and words of the parents, until they can read, comprehend, and interpret the Bible on their own. Parents must speak faith into their children.
Once a child has faith it must be carefully tended to, so that it will grow. With faith, not ego, pride, or arrogance, the world opens to a child. Mark 11:22-24 proclaims, And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Without faith, children walk through life sustained by what they see and hear in the media; most is not good. With faith, they are sustained by that which will never fail and never disappoint---the love of God. Proverbs 3:5-6 promises what they will be rewarded in return for their faith, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Talk about a win-win situation!
Oh, the title was Nihilism and Idealism vs Faith. I almost forgot the idealism. Idealism, according to Google, is the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically. Nothing, is unrealistic when we are dealing with God. When we let God lead and direct, we can do whatever HE WANTS us to do. Matthew 17:20 empowers us by stating, For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. Also through John 14:12 Jesus awes us with this knowledge, Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
That is not idealism. That is the power of faith.
I know I have talked about children. Yet, children grow to be adults. Some adults
are struggling, because they were not brought up with faith, or their faith just is
not very strong. Everything I have said about children applies to us adults. As we
face day-to-day (physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc.) challenges we must
remember Ephesians 6:12, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against
the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present
darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. We cannot fight
with our many degrees, big brains, copious talents, or political connections. We must
fight with our faith. Either that or we have already lost the fight.
SHORT SUMMARY: Nothing on the outside of our bodies can overpower that
which is on the inside of our bodies and minds. Only God, through faith, can
control our feelings, emotions, and desires. Without God our lives are
In the past couple of years so many individuals have been lost to the personal destruction of their lives. No, I am not a psychotherapist, just a Christian who cares. (Please, do not turn down help and concern from those who have never been where you are.) Pray for each other. Help each other. Support each other. Love each other.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
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Once again, this is not nihilism or idealism being used to cope with life. It is faith!
This is one perspective. What’s yours?
BBB-P June/July 2018