The real cost of idleness
In mid-March when there was rampant talk of how a national home lockdown would protect the populace from unrestrained spread of COVID, we wondered. Then came stunning announcements that churches would close indefinitely – with no gatherings, no public Masses, no sacraments – and it gave deeper cause for alarm. Daily TV and radio public service jingles rang like grating propaganda … “stay home, wash your hands, we’re all in this together.” It seemed worse than Orwellian. But ol’ George got it right with his dystopian prophecy.
With months of many not going to work, to school, to play sports, to socialize, to visit family, to beaches or parks, or even to church, the fuse began to burn.
Nightly TV updates on the virus ‘progress’ were further anxiety causing, with constantly escalating tabulations flickering in the screen-corner, coupled with reports of economic plunge and depression rise.
What was worse than the avalanching job losses, closed schools, empty commercial districts, and traffic-less streets was the hidden idleness of so many youth. It made no front-page news, there were no photos, video clips, or interviews.
But idleness is like a geyser. Eventually it explodes.
Then we saw it. The perfect storm gave rise to tidal waves of riots – surges incited by the Minneapolis police brutality. ‘Peaceful protestors’ – bored kids, really – everywhere morphed into violent terrorizers, together for hours each night carousing for their cause, with a new night-out agenda after usual routines were yanked.
A parallel problem with youth idleness has been the lack of a civil moral code. The godlessness of the ‘nones’ birthed a moral anarchy – they flaunted causes like creeds to be imposed on all. The dearth of Godly confidence in their lives instead got usurped with flash-mob mania. Those authorities enabling horrific criminality only made it worse.
This is why the Catholic Church needs to remain continually present to all – health scare or not – so the faithful can spiritually recharge to shine as exemplars of the order of Christ, and others can come back, or for the first time. Lonely, under-fathered, unaffirmed kids need friendship, mentoring, and help from those who can offer hope. Elderly who are isolated need companionship, reassurance of God’s will for their lives, and practical assistance. The unemployed need immediate shoring up – financially, socially and spiritually – so they won’t default to withdrawal, abuse, despair, or suicide.
Kids thrown off normal routines need new ones – exhausting ones – in their place: rigorous coursework, manual labor, and tiring jobs – with an enforced discipline code. Parents with odd jobs that need doing can commission them to bored kids, even if they must first teach them the arduous process.
Busy, productive people are typically happy, fulfilled people willing to remain accountable for their lot. It’s not rocket science, just the nature of healthy soul and psyche. Finally, when we encounter someone reeling from raw disappointment and hardship, it’s the time to reacquaint him with the fatherly surety of Christ – our enduring Friend who extends His help, protection, and calming rightorder … simply for the asking.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.