Childhood Troubles: The Root Cause

From the April 2009 Trumpet Print Edition

If you are familiar with the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong, you might recall his profound synopsis of human existence. “There are two main ways of life—two basic principles—two fundamental philosophies,” he explained. “One is the way of giving, the other of getting. One is love, the other lust. One believes it is more blessed to give than to receive. The other insists that acquiring, taking, accumulating, in the way of competition, leads to progress and happiness” (Plain Truth, February 1983).

What are the consequences of living the “get” way of life? Mr. Armstrong continued, “It has produced every wail of human woe. It is the way that now threatens the extinction of humanity” (emphasis mine throughout).

You need only contemplate human history or steal a glance at modern society to recognize the truth in those statements.

For the more skeptical, however, one recent comprehensive study confirms Mr. Armstrong’s God-inspired observation. Commissioned by the Children’s Society in Britain in September 2006, the Good Childhood Inquiry was Britain’s first independent national inquiry into the conditions that lead to a good childhood. On February 5, after more than two years of in-depth investigation of over 30,000 children, parents and professionals, the Children’s Society launched its report, A Good Childhood.

It’s a blockbuster. It’s a landmark. It’s a “wake-up call,” Children’s Society Chief Executive Bob Reitemeier said. “It says that the aggressive pursuit of individual success by adults today is the greatest threat to our children.”

Don’t gloss over that statement. Stop a moment, mull it over, digest it. The “greatest threat” to children today—despite what most authorities tell us—is not obesity, or gang violence, or online predators, or drug abuse, or alcohol, or suicide, or sexual abuse.

It’s selfish parents and adults!

The Get Way

The Telegraph described the study’s findings thus: “The Good Childhood Inquiry claims that almost all of the problems now facing young people stem from the culture of ‘excessive individualism’ that has developed in recent decades.

“It says the ‘me-first’attitude of adults is causing family breakdowns, competition in education, a growing gap between rich and poor, unkindness among teenagers and premature sexualization by advertisers” (February 2).

Humbling stuff, particularly for parents. But it’s also refreshingly honest. Finally, a study has probed beneath the nasty, outward sores affecting Britain’s children and exposed the root cause of their woes!

Which woes? British childhood, as the report shows, is marked by trial and tribulation: emotional and behavioral problems at home and at school; violence; anxiety, depression and mental ills; promiscuity and sexual perversion; teenage pregnancy—the worst in Western Europe; youth gangs; knifings; drug and alcohol abuse; suicide.

It’s about time we began to recognize that parents and adults preoccupied with satisfying their own lusts, forging their own personal success, and basically living the “get” way are the root cause of these problems!

“There is unease about the unprecedented speed with which children’s lives are changing; the commercial pressures they face; the violence they are exposed to; the rising stresses of school; the increased emotional distress they feel,” Mr. Reitemeier stated. “There is one common theme that links all these problems:excessive individualism. This is the widespread belief among adults that the prime duty of the individual is to make the most of their own life, rather than to contribute to the lives of others.”

That statement backs up the reality Mr. Armstrong explained for years. It is proof that the get way produces “every wail of human woe.”

The positive upshot of this understanding, though, is that it contains the solution to the problem. Implementing this solution can provide health-filled happiness, joy and rock-solid stability for our children.

That solution can be explained simply: Embrace the lifestyle opposite to the get way. Live the give way!

The Give Way

Here’s a practical suggestion. Cement the following principle in your heart and mind: I must consider the well-being of others before myself. Make it a goal to allow the give principle to permeate every nook and cranny of your life. Before you perform any action, conduct any conversation, make any decision, ask yourself: Does this serve me only, or does it serve others first? Analyze every impulse in this context.

The end result is guaranteed. Live by that principle. Choose to serve others, including God, before yourself, and your life will be revolutionized. More importantly, by embracing the give way of life, you can change the lives of those around you!

This is the solution to childhood woes!

Imagine a marriage in which the husband and wife each put God’s law of give and the interests and well-being of the other person before him or herself. Adultery vanishes, divorce ends. Both husband and wife are mentally and emotionally fulfilled, happy and stable. These conditions produce safe, stable, happy children. Imagine a family where siblings are taught to value the well-being of others before their own. Fighting, bickering and division diminishes. Each child becomes happier, more successful, more fulfilled, more lovable, more loving, more loved. Imagine teens taught to obey God’s laws, teens putting the well-being of others before themselves. Tensions melt. Teen violence vanishes. Alcohol and drug abuse dissipates; unwed teen pregnancy is impossible. High schools are a joy to visit.

If living the get way of life is the cause of Britain’s (and the world’s) childhood woes, then living the give way of life is the solution!

Of course, changing our very character and nature from get to give is more impossible than it sounds. To successfully transform our human hearts, which the Prophet Jeremiah warned are selfish and vain and evil (Jeremiah 17:9), requires power and discipline beyond what the human mind and body is capable of producing.

It requires nothing less than the mind and power of God!

God wants to give you access to His power! To learn what you must do to draw on it, request a free copy of Repentance Toward God and The Incredible Human Potential. For a picture of what this planet would be like if every human, using God’s power, lived the way of give, request Mr. Armstrong’s wonderfully descriptive, hope-filled booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.