I’ve heard there were once cultures who honored their ancestors and appreciated the wisdom of their elders. How comical and naive! Right?
In our contemporary, advanced and superior-in-all-ways world, we have been efficiently taught to distrust history and look with contempt on all the naive and unsophisticated generations who came before us. We no longer see value in considering the ideas or morals of such lesser cultures.
Our eyes were opened beginning in the 1960’s with the rise of the slogan, “Trust nobody over thirty,” as we enthusiastically shrugged off the restricting shackles of absolute truth and donned the easy mantle of relativism. “If it feels good, do it!”
That revolution has led us to what I like to call the “oxymoronic age” when good is evil, right is wrong, and even biology is suspect. How can we honor the roles of father and mother when these very concepts are considered to be the backward constructs of our pathetically paternalistic forebears?
We consider all the generations who came before as having nothing to offer, while at the same time we have elevated the indigenous, tribal populations to god-like status. They are the embodiment of both innocence and wisdom. These original ecological heroes serve as the paradigm for our dealings with nature. Yet, these same peoples drove entire herds of bison over cliffs in order to harvest what the tribe needed, leaving most of the carcasses as carrion. Hardly an ideal ecological practice from our current perspective. This doesn’t mean they were evil. It is simply an example of using the knowledge and tools of their time.
Why can’t we respect the civilizations who didn’t have our scientific or technological advantages for using the knowledge and tools they had? Consider, without those earlier generations, none of our current “superiority” could have come about. They deserve honor and respect, not suspicion and derision.
The Bible, the cornerstone for most successful western civilizations for thousands of years, has fallen victim to contemporary attitudes toward earlier cultures, as well. Perhaps this is why people no longer fear breaking the commandments of God. Our society flouts them with aplomb:
- Thou shalt not kill? We slaughter full-term babies by the thousands in government supported abortion mills.
- Thou shalt love the Lord your God? What god? We don’t want to hear about it.
- Honor your father and mother, so your days may be long upon the earth? Are you kidding? Biological parents are just accidents of birth.
Those of us who still believe can see where this is leading and we cling to this promise:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.(2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)