What young protesters get up to during their holidays
Normally August is the ‘silly season’ for Europe. People disappear on holiday, postponing all important matters until September, while beaches and museums fill up with tourists. Daily life becomes so boring that journalists have a tough time finding anything worth writing up for their news pages that are normally crammed with current events. But this year could not be more different. The Eurozone crisis caused politicians to cut short their holidays. Norway was stunned by the crimes committed by a mentally disturbed young man whom many people dubbed a ‘radical Christian’. But that description was inaccurate, as he had already in the past issued several threats against the Pope. This crazed young man turned out to be the son of a Norwegian diplomat who, after learning about the tragedy, had only one piece of advice for his son: “He should have killed himself.” Several days later, the Freemason Lodge deleted the son’s name from its membership list.
Leaving us very little time to recover our cool, our television stations started broadcasting scenes of the riots in London. These may have started as a protest movement, but soon looked like a picnic or an alternative way to go shopping. Young people from the bottom of the social ladder were sauntering with shopping trolleys along the streets of Tottenham and Ealing. Some of them even came in cars driven by their parents. Children got out, looted shops and brought the stolen goods back to their cars, and then the parents drove off while their kids went back for more. Are we really to believe that the ‘fun and games’ enjoyed by these youngsters can be attributed solely to the lack of integration of immigrant children into society? Some people maintain that – in the London gangs, for example – most of the young men come from broken homes, regardless of whether they are white or black. This is hardly surprising when you consider that, according to the UK National Statistics Office, 45% of children in Britain are born out of wedlock, and in certain localities such as Knowsley on Merseyside (nicknamed ‘Single Mum Central’) this proportion can reach 70%. These ‘single mothers’ deserve to be supported because the ‘missing father syndrome’ is probably the critical non-economic factor that makes the integration of young boys and men particularly difficult.
In the shadow of the London riots and the Greek protest marches, in which people of every age group took part, the Spanish ‘Outraged’ protest movement went almost unnoticed. I write ‘almost’ because the World Youth Days and the visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI focused media attention on events in Spanish locations during August. Nearly two million young people descended on Madrid to pray together with the Pope and to experience the communion of faith. You could also label these young people as ‘protesters’ of a sort, as they too are against the world plunged in relativism and mediocrity. But their form of protest takes a completely different form. They oppose the way of life that is totally taken over by consumerism, they reject education systems that have gone overboard in market-orientation, they condemn national laws which legalise euthanasia and the killing of unborn children, and they oppose any society that sets the institution of marriage on an equal footing with same-sex unions. But it is not unemployment, which also affects young university graduates – and has become a real social issue in Spain – but rather opposition to the ‘benefits’ of ‘zapaterism’ (where religion is not allowed to influence politics) which is the root cause of the provocative behaviour of militant leftist activists, now growing older and greyer, against the Catholic youth.
As Pope Benedict XVI said when addressing the World Youth Day participants, “In a world of relativism and mediocrity, we need that radicalism to which your consecration, as a way of belonging to the God who is loved above all things, bears witness.” He was encouraging the young people to build their lives not on sand but on Christ as their solid rock foundation; nor should they allow themselves to be dragged into the mainstream of selfishness but live their lives in service devoted to God and to fellow man. It is only by following this path that the human heart can find peace.
Translated from the original french