It saddens me to see the majority of our young people accepting, without hesitation, the philosophy of hopelessness presented by so much of today’s entertainment media.
As I study the entertainment industry, one thing I see in nearly every facet is the feeling of hopelessness. There are no answers for life’s problems. There is no future. There is no morality. There is no God. There is no purpose for life. There is no reason for living. Life is empty and hopeless.
How does this hopeless attitude toward life affect us?
This is not a study on personalities, but I have counseled at least three types of people that I will call aggressive, outgoing, and introspective. When their focus is on the hope of Christ, they are leaders, encouragers, and servants for the sake of Christ. When their focus is on the hopelessness of this world, I see something completely different.
Without hope in Christ, the aggressive personalities often show indiscriminate anger toward “them.” It doesn’t matter who they are. It’s their fault life is so messed up. They think, They have put us in this hopeless situation, so I’m going to be angry and violent. Although these individuals rage against their situations, they have little hope, maybe no hope, that anything will change. An attitude of anger is reinforced in many movies, video games, and songs. This personality is angry because they don’t like feeling completely helpless. It is a never-ending cycle.
The outgoing personalities, on the other hand, are often upbeat and might express their hopelessness through the ”fun” of promiscuous sex, drugs, alcohol, and the party scene. They seem to think, There’s no hope for the future, so why not eat, drink and be merry? We’re all going to die soon, so we might as well have a good time before they come to take us away.
This is the main theme in the majority of films and songs aimed at our young people, who may not recognize their hopeless lives, because they’re too busy filling their lives with sex, drugs, and alcohol.
The introspective personalities feel just as hopeless as the others but are seldom able to express outward signs of the turmoil inside. They are often compliant children and express hopelessness through depression, lack of motivation, negative attitudes, or a cynical outlook that life is ridiculous and absurd. Since there is no God, there is no real purpose, plan, or destiny for their lives. They think, We’re all going to die and turn into dust, so who cares? What’s after that? Nothing.
The theme of hopelessness is expressed in the majority of thoughtful films, such as American Beauty, Body of Lies, and so many others. This hopelessness is expressed in most alternative music and many popular video games. Quiet personalities may call attention to their perception of today’s society and their place in it with a cynical attitude, angry music, dark clothes, and bizarre hairstyles and hair colors. These characteristics are often desperate cries for help and understanding.
A word of caution here. When responding to this negative behavior, try to overlook the clothes. Bizarre appearance does not always translate into destructive behavior. In today’s society, a look that some consider bizarre may simply be a fashion statement. It’s not wrong to be a nonconformist.
If you recognize one of your children in any of the descriptions in this chapter, remember: the problem is not your child. Your child is never the problem. Your child may have a problem, but your child is never the problem.
The problem often is hopelessness expressed by the child’s behavior. Look for ways you can help your child understand true hope is in Jesus.
The negative personality traits will often disappear when your child understands who he or she is in Christ. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. When your child yields to the lordship of Christ in his life and understands the freedom God’s grace brings, appearance may not change or conform to yours, but you will see a difference in attitude.
A young man was put in a prison cell. As the years passed, his friends stopped coming to visit. After awhile, they forgot he was there. He didn’t get any messages of hope or love from the outside. He became depressed with his situation because he saw no way out. His future looked hopeless. Eventually, he died in his hopelessness.
When it came time to remove his body for burial, they discovered the cell door was unlocked the entire time. He could have simply opened the door of his cell whenever he chose, but he never tried because he was convinced it was locked.
Many kids today feel locked in a prison of hopelessness. They may not be able to articulate their feelings, but most young people are influenced by the lies given through much of today’s entertainment media.
But there is hope! “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). The key to their prison of hopelessness is the hope found in Jesus Christ.
Is your child demonstrating the symptoms of hopelessness? Don’t give up. Let his negative symptoms point to the real problem. Your child is struggling with his faith in Jesus and the joy of his salvation (Colossians 2:8).
Continue to pray, continue to communicate, and continue to listen for her heart’s cry. Sometimes the best thing you can do is simply listen and try to understand that her behavior is a symptom of a deeper need. Your responsibility as a parent is to help her answer that deeper need with the hope of Jesus.
You just read the first section of this chapter. The complete chapter including the Reflection, Response, Scripture, and Application is one of 30 chapters from Al's new book RECONNECT: When your kids are connected to everything but you. Find out how to order your own copy.
founded Al Menconi Ministries
in 1982. Since that
time, Al has spoken to more than a million people about entertainment and its influences. He has
written numerous books and articles on the subject and provides free help for parents on his web
. Al and his wife Janice have two
grown daughters and reside in Carlsbad, CA.
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