A seminal U.S. history learning moment for me happened in the third grade and continues to echo in my mind. It is the battle cry for American liberty attributed to John Paul Jones: “Give me liberty or give me death!” And I can remember thinking “what kind of liberty would warrant dying for it?” Being born in a free society, it is easy to take for granted the civil liberties we enjoy for which so many past and present sacrifices are made to preserve and protect. More importantly, this battle for American liberty is easily confused with a simple act of rebellion rather than as a drumbeat of God’s love, which is merciful, sacrificial and offers the hope of grace and mercy in all of the affairs of humanity.
Fast forward 45 years, in a cyber-powered world where the adult issues of bullying, addiction and exploitation are crashing into the realm of our hearts and minds. As I write this, a long, dark shadow of fear and death is cast by global news feeds featuring ISIS beheadings via satellite and television broadcasts, augmented with graphic, raw images and the horrific thoughts inspired by unbridled rage streaming via social media. And then our children’s versions of their own cyber social realms expose the primal fear unchecked (think Lord of the Flies) manifest as gossip, bullying, and sexting, beckoning a surrender to the hate emotion inspired by evil thoughts; to believe the bully thoughts of powerlessness put into motion that convey more hopelessness, which is its own brand of bondage.
Hope fears no evil
Hope is the result of mustard seeds of faith; believing in the reality that good exists and prevails despite the evil perpetuated on humanity – the lies that have become real experiences murdering the truth about God’s love. Hope is the product of the divinity within, which my faith tells me is completely expressed through the mindset of Christ Jesus who teaches us that love is learned as we apply faith through life experiences.
“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” Ancient Chinese Proverb
What made George Washington think he had a chance when crossing the Delaware? Was his ambition to be king? Was he angry? Did he have expectations to conquer the world? Was it his desire to make other people to conform to his will? No. It was the pursuit of good that drove him and the founding leaders of this free society we call the United States of America. It was a divine idea in the mind of God affirmed in fellowship and then expressed in the declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, to form not a perfect union, but a more perfect union (aspiring for the greater good). It was an act of faith inspired by a vision for a society governed by the virtuous nature of humanity devoted to Divine Love, which I understand comes from the heart of Christ who is God’s love perfectly expressed in the flesh. So in my mind, hope fears no evil because it is rooted in the belief that the victory has already been won; we carry on and pursue the good in the most heinous and frightening of circumstances.
So how shall we and our children respond to the evil news and experiences in our own back yards and around the world? Here is a good suggestion from Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P.: “…consider the great evils we see in the news and to ask ourselves, ‘Do I want to contribute to the sum total of evil in the world or the sum total of goodness?’ …Doing good is self rewarding.” (Source: The Freedom to Love: Recovery and the Seven Deadly Sins, 2012, p.83)
Now more than ever we and our children need to be self-governing as individuals and as a family unit; to understand that we as individuals inherently have command over our own intellect and will and this is power that cannot be taken, but it can easily be surrendered. So what you choose to believe about personal power matters. If you choose to believe the mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible, that God is sovereign over the life of every individual and He grants and honors free will, then it makes sense to train our children to seek wise counsel in their own relationship with the LORD and with their parents so they can learn to recognize a lie when they experience it on and off-line, and pursue the good they are called to do with a heart full of hope.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.