St. John Bosco is famous as the patron of neglected and poor youth. He is recognized as an example of reaching out to young people with compassion, love, and true concern rather than brute violence, abuse, or anger. In a society which has increasingly lost its ability to effectively define compassion, understanding, and education, the example of John Bosco stands as a reminder of what these things really mean when applied to our young people.
Father Bosco's Strategy
Once it became apparent to John Bosco that his purpose in life was to help and educate young people, he formulated a plan to effectively fulfill that purpose. That plan had to incorporate God's Word and Will, the teachings of Christ, and the practicalities of working with young people. Bosco discovered that he needed to wrap his moral, ethical, and intellectual lessons in a style and presentation attractive to the youth he was working with. By using games, music and other methods, Bosco was able to reach his audience more effectively and make a positive impression on their lives. Regardless of what methods Bosco used, however, he began from a starting point of love, compassion, concern, and a genuine desire to improve the lives of these boys. Furthermore, Bosco let the boys see that his contact with them and concern for them was genuine and not merely temporary. His life was an application of Christ's request that the children be brought to him. Most importantly, Bosco combined his creativity with discipline and structure, as well as providing a model of the kind of behavior and belief that he was trying to impart on his pupils. By demonstrating genuine love and concern and providing a model of the lessons he taught, John Bosco was able to touch the lives and minds of the boys he helped. Oh, one other thing. Bosco believed in what he was doing, saving souls. That was paramount to him. He never compromised the Faith to win the boys over.
The industrial revolution and similar technological advancements created a more "advanced" form of the kind of abuse imposed on the powerless since the beginning of time. It is a fact that the powerless have always been marginalized, ignored, abused, mistreated, and used. It is also a fact that children have always been members of the powerless due to their physical, economic, and social status. Despite the fact that many people are shocked to hear of child labor, that reality is nothing more than an example of the prevailing attitudes toward children. While we like to think that we have moved beyond such abuses and attitudes, we have in fact merely updated and revised those abuses and attitudes in different forms today. As a former public school teacher, I can assure you that the needs of children in that system are not being met to the degree that is necessary to develop responsible, capable citizens. The New York City public school system has 1,200 schools of which roughly 200 are competent. The remaining schools are an abomination of incompetence, disorder, dysfunction, and mismanagement. The entire public education system, combined with teachers' unions and the like, have become more concerned with fostering their own agenda over the needs of the children who are their sole purpose for existence. One need only look at how schools seem more concerned with maintaining their monopoly over students, education, and educational funds than with actually educating their students.
It is also a sad reality that teachers' unions are more concerned with embracing and promoting their liberal political and social agendas than helping teachers do their job. For example, it is a fact that the National Education Association and practically all teachers' unions promote such things as abortion, sodomite agendas, feminist goals, and other liberal platforms and censor any contrary positions on these issues. These people use their members' funds to gain political power and push their liberal agendas. Only a fool would attempt to justify what abortion and sodomite agendas have to do with the actual education of our young!
This society's secular strategy in dealing with children, then, is to use them to further its own political, social and other agendas by waving them as pawns to gain their goals.
While not as graphic as child labor in a sweatshop, the manipulation and hypocrisy is perhaps even more sinister and treacherous! This is not to say that there are many groups and institutions which sincerely try to help children. However, the sad fact is that many of the most influential and powerful groups, including public education and the media, merely seek to manipulate and use our young people for their own agendas under the guise of concern and understanding.
I have often written that lawyers and psychologists have invaded the classroom turning simple authority and discipline into a complex mess from which education, appropriate behavior, structure, order, discipline and ethical development cannot possibly evolve. Teachers cannot teach because they are subject to lists of what they can and cannot do. Students need not learn because they can hide behind absurd legal and psychological distortions originally aimed at protecting them but which now merely protect them from becoming educated.
Political realities prevent legislators and leaders from pointing at parents as the prime culprits in not always creating a positive home environment which supports what good education does come out of the school. Consequently, we get a vicious cycle wherein poor, unruly students go on to become poor, unruly parents raising the next generation of the same while the disasters which are many of our public schools point fingers at everything and everyone but the true culprits of the growing mess.
As originally intended, our public schools saw no problem bringing structure, order, ethics, morality, and respect for God into the classroom. This simple plan worked effectively but, unfortunately for the ghouls of The New Order, created the kind of citizens who oppose what The New Order wants to set up. As God, morality, discipline, structure, and authority have been removed from public schools, they have collapsed into something resembling Dante's Inferno. Believe me, for I have been in such a school which was not even the worse kind yet was a horrible place in which to educate anyone!
Could this be one reason St. John Bosco was given a vision of hell? Just as the children of Fatima were shown such, so also this holy founder of the Salesians was shown intimate visions which included his own students much to his very great dismay and only encouraged him further to work on those specific boys to save them from this vision becoming an ugly, eternal reality for them.
Complexity Brings Confusion
As the way we deal with our young has become more complex, greater confusion has arisen leading to even further erosion of effective education and teaching of proper conduct. Discipline used to mean imparting structure, respect, and order into the classroom. It was what St. John Bosco established and expected. Today it is a joke in an environment where the child waving a knife at the teacher has so many "rights" that he is immune from true help. How can a system teach discipline, structure, respect, order and competence when it clearly shows itself incapable of demonstrating these things in any regular pattern?
Respect used to mean recognizing the authority of teachers, administrators, and elders and showing deference to them. St. John built this as the cornerstone of his credibility both in respect for the Son of God, His Church and those ordained to be priests according to the Order of Melchisedech in offering the most sublime of Mysteries - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With the latter there was always respect, not so with the new mass where anything goes to keep the unity of community even if it means disrespecting God and His holy Church.
Today young people not only mock, ridicule, and ignore elders and superiors, but they increasingly demand respect they have not themselves earned. You wonder why rights and privileges used to be earned with maturity and demonstrated competence and respect. Today these rights and privileges are demanded as some divine rights which need not be earned in any way.
Childhood used to mean a time of life wherein a young person matured, enjoyed life, and grew intellectually, emotionally and socially in an environment which respected and recognized the differences between children and adults. It was a time when children learned from the wisdom of their elders and applied that wisdom in their trials so they would be convinced of the truths they were told. Yes, it was tough love, but they were given the fishing pole and taught how to fish so they could provide for themselves and others for the rest of their lives, being instrumental in the salvation of souls as fishers of men.
Since the revolution of the sixties, it has now become a pseudo-adulthood which treats innocent children as adults. They have no time to just be children. Rather their innocence is lost and their maturity is twisted into permanent immaturity. They feel affronted if they are told to 'fish' but rather want it handed to them and society, in accommodating them and buying the rubbish that "it takes a village," is actually incapacitating them by not showing tough love. Rather it is wimp love that really isn't love at all for were it love, then those concerned would truly be concerned for their social, physical, mental, and most important, spiritual welfare. Instead, in many ways our society abuses its children everywhere from abortion in the womb to manipulation and corruption in the classroom and media. By the time they truly become adults they are a mess primarily because they have not learned discipline and respect; they do not know about tough love. Oh, to have more John Boscos today in every school and parish.
In a society which has not been able to eliminate the abuses of children that always existed, we have added a more subtle, sinister abuse of our young. We pretend that their educational system is effectively serving its purpose and assume that our media industry has the interests of children in mind. We hear ad nauseum from the very ones doing the abuse, "it's for the children." We hear that from the Democrats and pro-aborts who are quick to come to the aid of children in the ravaged lands, while handing their mothers contraceptives and abortaficients. We hear that mantra from the Hollywood elite and media who turn around and pollute their minds with temptations of the flesh and fill them with greed for things that hinder their path to Heaven. We hear this refrain from the bishops who cover up for sinful sodomite clergy and hierarchy who have scandalized so many souls and ravaged Catholic families through their deceit and mistrust. Such that what St. John Bosco established in trusting priests has been greatly corroded, if not destroyed.
We act too harshly with our children, impose too much maturity on them, or surrender too much freedom for them. John Bosco contrasts this dysfunctional approach to our young by demonstrating that holy simplicity consistent with God' Word and Christ's example is the most effective strategy for dealing with our children. As our youth increasingly forget their God and the path to their own salvation, we can look at this society as the root of the problem and John Bosco as a prime example of how God intended youth to be treated, served, and loved. It takes tough love to truly fulfill the two greatest commandments.