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What's wrong with the younger generation?

Here's an article written by Herbert W. Armstrong for the first issue of The PLAIN TRUTH,
seven years BEFORE the magazine existed.
It was never published. It appears now, 38 years later, for the first time.


RECENTLY, among old files, Mrs. Armstrong ran across the manuscript of an article written for the very first issue of The PLAIN TRUTH. But it did not appear in that first issue. It has never been published until now!

Almost immediately after my conversion, in the spring of 1927, the vision came to mind of a new kind of magazine I hoped would attain a very large circulation. For 16 years I had been in the advertising and magazine field. I was experienced in the writing of magazine articles — but in the field of business and merchandising — not in the religious category.

The name that came to mind for the magazine was The PLAIN TRUTH. I had printers make up a 32-page "dummy" with glossy heavy cover — almost exactly the kind and size of paper you are holding in your hands right now. Only, of course, all the pages were blank white paper. Next, I employed a professional letter artist to design and letter in a front cover, in two colors.

The cover of that first "dummy" PLAIN TRUTH contained the captions of five or six feature articles I hoped to write for the first issue. Three of those articles were then written.

One contained the headline you see above. Another was captioned: "Putting the Evolutionary Concept into Your Child's Mind." We did finally publish that one in July, 1964. A third one, never published in the form then written, was titled: "The Foundation for Sunday Sacredness CRUMBLES!" The material in that original manuscript, rewritten, is available in the booklet on The Resurrection.

But those were the days of financial reverses, trial, test, and actual hunger. The way did not open, then, to fulfill the dream of publishing a big-circulation magazine called The PLAIN TRUTH. What I then had in mind was a magazine to sell on the newsstands.

It was a long and trying seven years before the way opened actually to produce The PLAIN TRUTH. And when it did, at last, come, it had to be the smallest, least-costly "home-made" type of "magazine" conceivable — mimeographed on a borrowed mimeograph — headlines cut by hand without a stylus or scope — type cut on stencils with a borrowed typewriter.

By that time I had made a considerable advancement in Biblical knowledge. I realized, then, that The PLAIN TRUTH could never be sold. The newsstand idea was gone. Besides, who ever saw a mimeographed "magazine" sold on newsstands? Don't laugh. It wasn't funny — then! Also, by February, 1934, the situation demanded other subjects than the article on flaming youth. Probably this article already had become misplaced in that old file — I do not remember.

Anyway, after being "out of sight — out of mind" for 38 long years, this article now suddenly turns up in an old, almost yellowed manuscript. When my wife discovered it, I was intrigued. I began to read it. I had completely forgotten it. I found it interesting. Perhaps that was only because I had written it myself — and the facts involved in its sudden resurrection after a 38-year burial. You may not find it a bit interesting — but I simply can't resist putting it before you to find out.


Before My Sons Were Born

This article was written before either of my sons were born! THINK OF IT! The "Sheik-Flapper" generation about which I then wrote is the 50-to 60-yearold generation TODAY!

You 50-and 55-year-old people! Were YOU those "hell-bent" "sheiks" and "flappers" of 1927? IMPOSSIBLE!!! Yet, it's TRUE! I can hardly believe it — and I doubt if you can!

The thought, however, intrigues me! You middle-age readers, now at least approaching "old age," are going to read, below, what I wrote about YOU, when you were the "hell-bent" teenagers shocking the "older generation" sitting then in such stern judgment of YOU!

And you teenagers among our readers! I wonder if you won't get a "kick" out of reading how "wild" and "sinful" were your parents — yes, and even perhaps your Grandparents — when they were your age.

You teenagers, with your modern teenage slang. Are you going to get a "bang" out of the kid slang your parents and grandparents were using? And I wonder if any of you 50-to 60year-olds will even remember how some teenagers talked, then. Perhaps you actually didn't — but many others did!

But you of the older generation who were the teenagers when I wrote this article — do you remember that the "oldsters" were out-of-date "old fogies" then? I remember reading a discourse Abraham Lincoln wrote. I think it was from a speech he made, on the subject of "Old Fogy." The very first "old fogies," he said, were probably Adam and Eve. And the older generations have been "old fogy" to the youngsters ever since!

In 1927, when this article was written, this "new psychology" on child rearing was just emerging. Today it has fastened itself like a leech or a barnacle onto a deceived and misled society — and the greatly multiplied rate of juvenile delinquency testifies to its efficacy.

Here, then, is the article written in 1927, now published in the kind of magazine of which I then dreamed — and with a few comments I have just now written, in the form of footnotes:


IS THE younger generation of this modern day hell-bent, or is it not?

An older generation dares to sit in stern and solemn judgment. The jazz-crazed, pleasure-mad youngsters hurl back the defiant retort that their old-fashioned, back-number elders simply do not understand. The sheik-flapper 1 generation emphatically assert their ability to take care of themselves. And they simply step the harder on the gas.


The Terhune-Wright Debate

Two literary luminaries — Harold Bell Wright and Albert Payson Terhune 2 — attempt to settle this mooted question in the June American Magazine 3, by engaging in debate. Terhune says the sheik-flapper generation is hell-bent. Wright says it is not.

Terhune believes much of the trouble lies in the newer psychology 4 in child rearing. Instead of having been whipped and raw-hided into parental obedience, the present generation of youngsters, he says, is the victim of a treat-with-kindness, do-as-you-please psychology. Lack of parental obedience, he believes, is the heart of the difficulty.

Wright denies that our young people are hell-bent, because, he says, they are merely apeing their elders. According to Wright, the parents are to blame — not in lack of discipline, so much as through example. The real trouble, says Wright, is that Dad attempts to correct young Willie something like this:

"Willie, I want you to keep out of my cigarettes!" Or, "Willie, if you ever sneak any of my hip-flask liquor 5 out to a party again, I'll cut down your allowance!"

Or that Dad will reprimand his flapper-daughter thus:

"Bubbles, you little painted hussy, you let Mother's lipstick and rouge alone!"

Mr. Wright sees in our snappy, peppy younger generation a real improvement over those immediately previous. Their life, their pep, their zip, their energy, he says, is going to do wonders when they are a little older and take the helm 6.

Mr. Terhune says human nature has not changed. Our youngsters of today, hell-bent as he pictures them, are doing merely the things the older generation would have done with the lid of restraint thrown off. They haven't been held down, while the older generation was.

There is, beyond a doubt, much truth in both their views.


The Real Cause

And now I intend to let fly a few observations of my own upon this hotly debated question. I have mixed considerably with the younger generation.

I believe I know them and understand them — at least in part. I am, in age 7, just midway between this sheik-flapper generation and the older one which is so ready to condemn. I have mixed with the younger set in their high school and college activities. I know them, I know their parents, and I know their college professors.

It would be simple folly to attribute all the wild and, to the oldsters, shocking characteristics of the young folk to any single cause. Many things, of course, combine to produce the composite sheik-flapper generation.

They are, in the first place, merely the victims of unhealthy influences — and this INCLUDES their parents! They are exactly what training, environment, example, and outside influences have made them.

I shall not attempt to rate these influences in the order of their importance. That is merely opinion, anyway.

But I want to mention, first, the result of lax parental training. It is true that the parents of the preceding generation refused to "spare the rod and spoil the child." The youngsters of that generation were reared in such strict discipline that, when they themselves became parents, they simply could not bear to be so strict with their children as their parents had been with them. Their childhood and youth had been, generally speaking, one of self-sacrifice, strict obedience to parental law, and long and frequent "whaling." The memory of this unremitting parental discipline was so indelibly burned into their memory that it produced a definite reaction. So the present crop of younger people were reared in a brand of discipline that swung almost to the opposite extreme. They were not made to suffer the pangs of self-sacrifice, the stern authority, the frequent and extreme whippings to which their parents had fallen heir.

The chief difficulty, though, was not so much a matter of substituting psychology for thrashings 8. Most youngsters were not taught SELF-DISCIPLINE. They were not trained in SELF-CONTROL.

The greatest handicap to the younger people today is their utter disregard for self-control. They have been permitted to grow up following DESIRE, instead of DUTY — given reign to impulse and inclination, instead of using judgment. They have formed the disastrous habit of being led and controlled by their whims, their passions, their fancies. Consequences are seldom weighed or considered, and still less seldom heeded. The question isn't "SHOULD I?" but "Do I WANT to?" There's no control of self.

When power is uncontrolled, then the greater the power, the greater the potential DANGER! If this younger generation is imbued with an excess of pep, energy, and power, the greater is the danger, unless that power is controlled — held in check by the force of self-discipline. When such excess energy is permitted to run riot wherever blind impulse leads, there's likely to be a WRECK!

Mr. Wright views this tremendous burst of speed, which we observe being demonstrated by the youngsters, as a wonderful asset for the future, when this generation takes the helm. But will all this pep and speed and energy be wisely and beneficially directed? Will it even be available then? Vitality, like many other things, needs to be conserved. When it's wasted, and dissipated, the supply is soon exhausted.

And by what process of reasoning do we know that this sheik-flapper age has greater power of personal vigor than the generations which went before? When the lid's off the teakettle, letting out so much more steam, is there more steam inside than when the lid was on? Our youngsters have thrown off the lid! They are simply letting off, and not conserving, the steam!


Parental Example No Whitewash

I sharply disagree with Mr. Wright in any notion that the sins of the parents can be applied as a whitewash for those of their children. Suppose we grant that Willie cops onto his dad's cigarettes, and snitches his bootleg liquor? Suppose Bubbles does learn from her mother to use rouge and lipstick, and to pluck her eyebrows? It happens, I grant, altogether too often. But that does not make it right.

I know parents who are far more interested in the social popularity of son and daughter than in their soul's salvation — who encourage their youngsters in all the searches after a thrill which keep up the feverishly excited pace. And who do not dream of what goes on beyond the focus of their vision — and would not believe it if they were told!

But does the fact that parents are setting the example — even encouraging the tendencies of youth — erase existing sins? If youth is hell-bent, does parental example and sanction alter the path toward hell? Or does it, rather, signify merely that the parents are sliding down on the same toboggan?

Youth is subjected, primarily, to four major influences — the home — the school — the church — and outside friends, activities, and amusements. So much for the effect of the modern-day home life. We have not had much to say about the religious influence of the home life — but then, there is so little of that in the average home, it simply requires no mention!


The School Influence

Now for the second influence — the school. Even in the grades and high schools, today, the evolutionary concept is planted, ready-manufactured, into the absorbent minds of youth. Not necessarily EVOLUTION — not by that name. But the evolutionary concept dominates every branch of study in the school curriculum today. That concept is the basic point of view which denies the miracles of the Bible — denies the Creation account of Genesis, denies the authority of revelation.

It is the point of view which teaches, instead, that for millions of years man has been slowly, steadily climbing upward. Civilized man once was what the savage is today. Between that prehistoric day of dim antiquity and the present, man has passed through the Old Stone Age, the New Stone Age, and the others through which evolutionary science imagines life has traveled.

The chief god, or gospel, of this concept is PROGRESS. Everything is, by natural law, getting constantly better and better. Progress is the gospel of the age! The basis of this concept is NATURALISM, and the reign of natural law, as opposed to supernaturalism and possible interference by a Divine Creator with the work of His own Creation.

In high school, I say, the young folks are given this CONCEPT. It forms the basis of any study which it might involve. This point of view is merely taken for granted. Not presented, as such, supported by arguments, and propagated into acceptance. Just simply assumed, as a matter of course, and taught as a universally known, commonly accepted FACT.

In college, the student gets evolution straight — without any deception or nicknames. A year or two of college, and he is a rare student indeed who is not a thorough convert to the doctrine of evolution.

If he ever held to fundamental religious beliefs, they are shattered to bits by now! His eyes are suddenly "opened." He now views his old religion in the light of an ignorant superstition — a foolish bit of folklore, not unlike the Santa-Claus myth. He may be shaken, bewildered, upset. But his disillusionment is complete. His hope of an eternity in "Heaven" is blasted as a foolish, childish dream. Some few go out and commit suicide.

But most of them, perhaps having exercised a certain self-restraint, due to religious convictions, until now, simply throw restraint to the four winds! If they have not done so sooner, they now hop on the bandwagon, and join the frenzied gang.