Editor’s note: This is the second and final part of a groundbreaking report on today’s youth culture by WND Vice President and Managing Editor David Kupelian. Part 1 exposes the cynical and soulless marketing of corruption to the “MTV generation” by Viacom, Disney, AOL/Time Warner and other companies. Part 2 takes readers on a guided tour of the psychological and even spiritual devastation being wrought in today’s youth, and points to the way out. Parts of the following are shocking, and may not be suitable reading for children. Parental discretion is advised.
Remember in the classic, biblical epic films of the 1950s, how Sodom and Gomorrah were portrayed? Drunken men with multiple piercings and bright red robes, with one loose woman under each arm, cavorting in orgiastic revelry against a background of annoying, mosquito-like music? Maybe a bone through the nose as well? Hollywood took pains to depict these lost souls in the most debauched and irredeemable manner – to justify their subsequent destruction with fire and brimstone as punishment for their great sinfulness.
Guess what? Those Hollywood depictions don’t even begin to capture the shocking reality of what is going on right here in America’s culture today – I mean, they’re not even close.
First of all, there’s sex. Very simply, there seem to be neither boundaries nor taboos any more when it comes to sex. Anything goes – from heterosexual to homosexual to bi-, trans-, poly-, and you-don’t-want-to-know sexual experiences. Sex has become a ubiquitous, cheap, meaningless quest for ever-greater thrills. As Dr. Laura Schlessinger quipped, the guy no longer has to lie to the gal, pretend he likes her or take her out to dinner to get sex – he just has to show up.
Moreover, with the evolution of online pornography, every type of sexual experience has literally been shoved under the noses of millions of Americans against their will, who find their e-mail in-boxes filled with hard-core sexual images. As a result, a recent urgent plea from well-known evangelist Chuck Swindoll lamented that one out of two American churchgoers today is caught up with Internet pornography.
What about body piercing? It has progressed from traditional earrings for females, to earrings for males (eager to display their “feminine side” which the ’60 cultural revolution sold them), to multiple piercings for both males and females in literally every part of the body – the tongue, nose, eyebrow, lip, cheek, navel, breasts, genitals – again, things you don’t really want to know.
It’s the same progression to extremes with tattooing. But why stop with “conventional” piercing and tattooing? Ritual scarification and 3D-art implants are big. So are genital beading, stretching and cutting, transdermal implants, scrotal implants, tooth art and facial sculpture.
How about tongue splitting? How about branding? How about amputations? That’s right – amputations. Some people find these activities a real “turn-on.”
There are no bounds – no lower limits. Whatever you can imagine, even for a second in the darkest recesses of your mind, know that someone somewhere is actually doing it, praising it, and drawing others into it via the Internet.
Strangest of all is the fact that any behavior, any belief – no matter how obviously insane – is rationalized so it sounds reasonable, even spiritual. Satanism itself, and especially its variant, the worship of Lucifer (literally, “Angel of Light”) can be made to sound almost enlightened – of course, only in a perverse way. But if you were sufficiently confused, rebellious and full of rage – if you had been set up by cruelty or hypocrisy (or both) to rebel against everything “good” – the forbidden starts to be mysteriously attractive.
Let’s pick just one of these bizarre behaviors. How about … hanging by your skin from hooks? It’s called “suspension.” In literally any other context, this would be considered a gruesome torture. But to many people who frequent “suspension parties,” it’s a spiritual experience. Consider carefully what “Body Modification Ezine” (www.bmezine.com) – the Web’s premiere site for body modification – says about “suspension”:
- What is suspension?
The act of suspension is hanging the human body from (or partially from) hooks pierced through the flesh in various places around the body.
Why would someone want to do a suspension?
There are many different reasons to suspend, from pure adrenaline or endorphin rush, to conquering one’s fears, to trying to reach a new level of spiritual consciousness and everything in between. In general, people suspend to attain some sort of “experience.”
Some people are seeking the opportunity to discover a deeper sense of themselves and to challenge pre-determined belief systems which may not be true. Some are seeking a rite of passage or a spiritual encounter to let go of the fear of not being whole or complete inside their body.
Others are looking for control over their body, or seek to prove to themselves that they are more than their bodies, or are not their bodies at all. Others simply seek to explore the unknown.
Many people believe that learning how one lives inside one’s body and seeing how that body adapts to stress – and passes through it – allows one to surrender to life and explore new realms of possibility.
Gosh – “control over their body,” “discover a deeper sense of themselves,” “conquering ones fears,” “trying to reach a new level spiritual consciousness.” What could be wrong with that?
Or, how about tongue splitting – literally making yourself look like a human lizard – how could that be a positive, spiritual experience?
“The tongue,” explains the BME website, “is one of the most immense nervous structures in your body. We have incredibly fine control over it and we receive massive feedback from it. When you dramatically alter its structure and free yourself of the physical boundaries your biology imposes, in some people it triggers a larger freeing on a spiritual level.”
Here’s one more experience I’ll bet you didn’t realize was so uplifting – getting AIDS.
Oh, you haven’t heard about “bug-chasing”? Rolling Stone did a big expose on this new underground movement last February. Very simply, “bug-chasers” are people for whom getting infected with the AIDS virus is the ultimate sexual experience. You heard it right: The main focus of their lives is to actively seek out sexual encounters that will infect them with HIV.
Reporter Gregory A. Freeman explained the phenomenon, focusing initially on a “bug-chaser” named Carlos:
- Carlos is part of an intricate underground world that has sprouted, driven almost completely by the Internet, in which men who want to be infected with HIV get together with those who are willing to infect them. The men who want the virus are called “bug chasers,” and the men who freely give the virus to them are called “gift givers.” While the rest of the world fights the AIDS epidemic and most people fear HIV infection, this subculture celebrates the virus and eroticizes it.
HIV-infected semen is treated like liquid gold. Carlos has been chasing the bug for more than a year in a topsy-turvy world in which every convention about HIV is turned upside down. The virus isn’t horrible and fearsome, it’s beautiful and sexy – and delivered in the way that is most likely to result in infection. In this world, the men with HIV are the most desired, and the bug chasers will do anything to get the virus – to “get knocked up,” to be “bred” or “initiated into the brotherhood.”
And what, exactly, motivates Carlos and his bug-chasing colleagues?
“For Carlos, bug chasing is mostly about the excitement of doing something that everyone else sees as crazy and wrong. Keeping this part of his life secret is part of the turn-on for Carlos, which is not his real name. That forbidden aspect makes HIV infection incredibly exciting for him, so much so that he now seeks out sex exclusively with HIV-positive men. ‘This is something that no one knows about me,’ Carlos says. ‘It’s mine. It’s my dirty little secret.'”
Deliberately infecting themselves, explains Freeman, “is the ultimate taboo, the most extreme sex act left on the planet, and that has a strong erotic appeal for some men who have tried everything else.”
No question about it: The forbidden is very attractive. As pop star Britney Spears admitted in a recent interview: “When someone tells me not to do something, I do it, that’s just my rebellious nature.” Similarly, Carlos’s thrill at having a “dirty little secret” is a very common theme sounded by people explaining why they had some hidden body part pierced.
Why are so many attracted to the forbidden? Why is it so exciting?
In love with death
In the West, we marvel at the death-oriented Muslim jihad subculture, which in some areas, particularly among the Palestinians, has become the dominant culture, a culture of death. We shake our heads sadly as we contemplate children growing up desiring, above all else, shahada – literally, martyrdom – which to them means blowing themselves up while killing as many Jews as possible, and thinking they’re going to heaven.
These young people, caught up in the rage-fueled Islamist marketing campaign of global jihad, can look you right in the eye and express with great passion their conviction that committing mass murder is the mystical doorway to eternal life. Yet, in much the same way, “bug-chasing” men who seek AIDS, people suspending themselves from the ceiling by meat-hooks, those who literally slice their own tongues in two – and even, albeit on a much more subtle level, “regular” people obsessed with the thought of getting their next piercing or tattoo – feel as though they too are moving, not toward death, but toward life and greater spirituality, a more unique and authentic sense of self. Somehow the ritual of pain and mutilation, and in extreme cases, death, drives out their awareness of inner conflict, and replaces it with an illusion of freedom and selfhood.
Here’s how psychotherapist Steven Levenkron, bestselling author and one of the nation’s foremost experts on anorexia and other emotional-based illnesses, explains it in his landmark book, “Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation”: “The self-mutilator is someone who has found that physical pain can be a cure for emotional pain.”
After years of counseling patients, mostly young women, who purposely cut their bodies with razors and knives to obtain relief from emotional conflict, Levenkron concludes:
- Self-mutilators have many different reasons for their actions and are tormented by a spectrum of different feelings. Yet I consistently encounter two characteristics in all self-mutilators:
1. A feeling of mental disintegration, of inability to think.
2. A rage that can’t be expressed, or even consciously perceived, toward a powerful figure (or figures) in their life, usually a parent.
For the self-mutilator, the experience of one or both of these feelings is unbearable and must therefore be “drowned out,” as they report, by some immediate method. Physical pain and the sight of oneself bleeding become solutions because of their ability to overpower the strength of those feelings.
Usually, the first incident begins with strong feelings of anger, anxiety, or panic. If the feeling is not too intense, throwing an object, or breaking or knocking something over, may settle the person down. It’s when the person becomes so overwhelmed that none of these “remedies” help that we may see them plunge a fist into a wall or through a window, bang their head against a wall, or finally take a weapon to use against themselves.
Someone who stumbles upon self-injury in this manner and discovers that it relieves one of the painful states listed above will be inclined to use this discovery again in the future. The individual who needs this kind of solution is a person who cannot redress the grievances she has with others, who is afraid to argue, to articulate what she is so angry about. The self-mutilator is ashamed of the mental pain that she experiences and has no language with which to describe it to others.
However they came to it, the self-mutilator is someone who has found that physical pain can be a cure for emotional pain. … When a person attacks his or her own body with an instrument that will wound the skin, and often worse, it means that the person feels helpless to use any other means to manage the mental anguish and chaos that is borne out of unmanageable feelings. …
Although Levenkron is describing a psychiatric syndrome afflicting young girls who ritualistically cut themselves to relieve inner pain, much of the same dynamic is at work to some degree in multitudes of people today finding solace and identity in pain and disfigurement. For example, here’s how one young lady explained her decision to have her tongue pierced, writing on the BME website:
- I love piercings and wanted to do it but the guy that I’m interested in disapproved of it. So, I was reluctant to do the piercing seeing as I didn’t want to start a relationship and having a piercing in an area that would affect our physical activities. Anyway, it turns out the bastard slept with my best friend the other night and I knew a new piercing had to take place. Weird, but getting a new piercing helps me to focus all my mental pain and then release it with the physical and also it leaves a nice looking piece of jewelry as well!
In other words, her anger is extinguished, at least temporarily, by piercing her own body.
Piercing the veil
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12
Earlier in this exploration of youth culture we “pierced” the corporate veil, discovering the shameful marketing reality behind today’s youth culture. Let’s go the rest of the way now, and pierce the spiritual veil.
History is full of times and places when something – call it a spirit if you wish – sweeps over a particular society. This something is drawn, as into a vacuum, into societies that have lost their way, and have harkened to the voice of deceitful leaders and philosophies. During the mid-20th century, a malevolent spirit swept over Germany, leading to unspeakable crimes being perpetrated against millions of Jews and other “undesirables” in the name of progress. In the late ’70s, the demonic spirit of Marxist “cleansing” swept through Cambodia like a raging wildfire, resulting in the brutal deaths of perhaps 2 million. And today, we see the worldwide spread of a maniacal jihad suicide cult that is attracting literally millions of Muslims.
But this phenomenon is evident not only in genocidal frenzies. The counterculture “revolution” of the 1960s was, to many, a spiritual phenomenon, with profound reverberations still in today’s world. Likewise, the New Age movement, the preoccupation with “channeling” and UFOs, and other similar movements have an uncanny spiritual, religious dimension that can’t be ignored.
True, mass conformity even to bizarre beliefs and practices can be explained somewhat by the sheer power of peer pressure, but there is more to it. It’s more akin to mass-hypnosis, where large numbers of people simultaneously adopt the same bizarre mindset, beliefs and practices. Such instances of spiritual “possession” of a society, of a people made ripe for such a downward transformation by their sins and rebellion against God, are evident throughout history.
Well now, is it just my imagination, or is there something about today’s celebratory piercing and tattooing of the body, and the free sex that permeates this culture, that literally evokes the spirit of Sodom and Gomorrah? It’s as though the rebellious spirit of reprobate, pagan civilizations of the past was being tapped into (dare I say “channeled”?) by today’s pop culture.
“Oh come on,” you might say, dismissively. “They’re just adorning the human body to make it more beautiful and unique. Let them have their fun. Who are they hurting?” Such mellifluous excuses spring up in our minds quite easily, as most certainly they did also in the time of Sodom, Gomorrah and other perverse societies.
The fact is, what has risen “out of the pit” in today’s world bears a striking resemblance to the ageless spirit of defiant paganism, a spirit now inhabiting millions of people “freed” by trauma (drugs, illicit sex, bodily mutilation, etc.) from the pain of their own conscience – which is to say, freed from God and the divine law written deep down in every person’s heart. Why? Same reason as always: so they can be their own gods and make up their own rules.
Of course, in a very real sense they are also victims – they’ve been set up for all this. For not only has today’s popular culture – from its astonishing gender confusion to its perverse and powerful musical expression – become toxic virtually without precedent in modern history, but also, most parents have not protected their own kids from it.
In past eras, if parents were very imperfect or even corrupt, their children still had a reasonable chance of “growing up straight,” since the rest of society still more or less reflected Judeo-Christian values. The youngster could bond to a teacher, minister, mentor or organization that could provide some healthy direction and stability.
But today, because of the near-ubiquitous corruption “out there,” if parents fail to properly guide and protect their children, the kids get swallowed whole by the child-molesting monster we call culture.
What do I mean? Just this: Your being any way other than genuinely virtuous – not perfect, mind you, but honestly and diligently seeking do the right thing at all times – will drive your children crazy. Here’s how the craziness unfolds: Children deserve and desperately need firmness, patience, fairness, limits, kindness, insight and a good, non-hypocritical example. In other words, they need genuine parental love and guidance. If they don’t get this, they will resent you. Even if you can’t see it, even if they can’t see it and deny it, they will resent you for failing to give them real love.
And that resentment – which becomes suppressed rage – is a destructive, unpredictable, radioactive foreign element in their makeup, which transmutes into every manner of problem, complex and evil imaginable. It makes children feel compelled to rebel against you, and against all authority, out of revenge for your having failed them. And it makes everything forbidden – from sex, to drugs, to tongue studs, to things worse – seem attractive, a road to personal freedom. Rationalizations and philosophies that once they would have laughed at as ridiculous, now make sense to them. Practices they would have shunned in more innocent times, they now not only embrace, but celebrate. All of this occurs below the level of consciousness.
Today’s youth rebellion is not only against failing parents, but against the entire adult society – against the children of the 1960s cultural revolution who grew up to become their parents. Unfortunately, many of us never shook off the transforming effects of that national trauma, which birthed the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” youth counterculture, the leftist hate-America movement, the women’s liberation movement and overriding all, of course, the sexual revolution.
So we grew up to elect one of our own – a traumatized, amoral sociopath of a baby-boomer named Bill Clinton. (His wife and partner-in-crime, Hillary, is the most popular Democrat in American public life today, and has a good shot at being president one day.) If you don’t think Bill Clinton’s escapades with Monica – covered by the media like the Super Bowl – had everything to do with the explosion of middle-school sexual adventures across America, then open your eyes. We, the parents of this generation, along with the degrading entertainment media, the biased news media, the lying politicians, the brainwashing government school system and the rest of society’s once-great institutions whose degradation we have tolerated, are responsible.
No wonder our children are rebelling. And today’s insane Sodom-and-Gomorrah culture, which we have allowed and in many ways created, stands waiting in the wings to welcome them with open arms.
The way out
Today’s culture is so poisonous that your only hope is to literally create (or plug into) another culture entirely – a subculture. Just as today’s homosexual culture, for example, used to be a miserable subculture lurking in public toilets and seedy clubs, and has today become the sophisticated culture of the “beautiful people” and Hollywood, so must your true American culture – if it’s ever to come back – start off as a subculture.
The best solution I know of for accomplishing this is to homeschool your children, and network with other like-minded parents in your area. Trust me, it’s already been done, you’re not reinventing the wheel. Sports, music, drama, Scouts, 4-H, whatever extracurricular activities you want, are all available to the homeschooler. You can literally pick and choose the “culture” in which your children grow up, and can actively participate in its creation. I believe homeschooling today represents the single most important and promising avenue for the true rebirth of American Judeo-Christian culture. In families where children are raised with real understanding and insight, and protected from the insanity of the popular culture until they’re big enough and strong enough in their convictions to go out in the world and kick butt in the name of righteousness – the real America is now being reborn. May it grow.
What if your children are already caught up in the youth subculture? Is it too late?
No it’s not. But it may be a difficult and long road back. It’s a lot easier to be corrupted than to become uncorrupted. Just know this: There is something almost magically liberating about confession. For a parent to honestly confess his or her mistakes, regrets, failings, selfishness and blindness to their errant offspring is a spiritual experience for both. Of course, when a youngster has been “converted” to new loyalties and beliefs, maintained by unconscious rage and rebellion (and perhaps the desire for revenge), he may or may not right away want to come back over to your side. But by being truly repentant over your own culpability in their problem, and confessing this openly and genuinely – and from now on being the kind of person you always should have been – you are giving them the best chance possible to forgive you and find redemption themselves.
Even if they don’t come around, or if it takes a long time, your honest self-examination and confession as a parent will free you from your own guilts and past sins. Beyond this, we need to have faith that, with God, all things are possible.
Following higher law
“A Scout is trustworthy … loyal … helpful … friendly … courteous … kind … obedient … cheerful … thrifty … brave … clean … and reverent.”
As I stand there at my 12-year-old son’s Boy Scout meeting (See opening of Part 1), listening to these boys recite the Scout Law, I know what I’m looking at. These kids – young men, really – their afterburners roaring on a fabulous fuel-mixture of youthful energy, playfulness, intelligence, testosterone and dedication to higher things, are literally the future of America. I am grateful that at least a few institutions in today’s world still exert a positive influence on children. I marvel at the powerful pull the Scout ethic has on them. It binds their lower impulses, hems them in, and appeals to the “better angels” of their nature.
Now they’re reciting the Scout Oath: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my Country, and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Or course – the Scouts, as well as other good institutions like our churches, and even marriage itself – are torn at mercilessly from the outside by heartless activists. And they are torn at from within – by the occasional rotten “Scout leader” whose ultimate aim is to molest children. And yes, even within Scouts, the kids bring a bit of that crazy culture in with them. Yet the Scout oath and law, the adult leaders, the time-tested-and-proven program, and the positive peer pressure – all of these beckon the boys to embrace a higher calling.
May we all do likewise. If we do, we can redeem our wretched culture – one child, one family at a time. And those little swatches of the real American culture, the bits of heaven-on-earth residing in this home and that home and this church and that Scout troop will one day, please God, join together to form the fabric of a reborn American culture of virtue. Each of us must take that lonely, high road. Otherwise, the marketers of evil will lead us all down to ever darker and lower levels of hell on earth.