“Selfies.” You’ve probably heard of them. They are the photos that teens (and, too often, young adults) take of themselves and post far and wide for the admiration or amusement of friends. Snap-chat, Facebook, and Twitter are full of selfies. Although great fun when used in moderation, they've also become a classic example of teen-age narcissism, self-absorption, and lack of vision—and the icon of a nation struggling to remember its greatness.
Our children live in a culture that celebrates self-gratification and scorns sacrifice. It’s a culture that has gradually lost the vision of greatness that drove our country forward, brought freedom to captive peoples, and inspired our veterans to give their lives. Even our schools, which spend hours on trendy thinking and political fads, often seem to have forgotten the mission of cultivating greatness in our children.
It’s up to us to give our children something more. One of the enduring tasks of parenthood—in every time and culture—is to raise children who see beyond their immediate self-interest to the transcendent realities that call them to live for something beyond themselves.
This week we celebrated Veteran’s Day, a time when we honor the men and women of our military for their vision of something greater than themselves: freedom. We salute them for their service to others—not self—in the day-to-day work of keeping our country safe. Every veteran—whether he or she served in peacetime, faced Communist guerrillas in Viet Nam, or fought the Taliban and Al Queda in Iraq and Afghanistan—knows the reality of things worth fighting for. Because the truth is that it is impossible to serve in America’s military without a commitment to something bigger than oneself. Soldiers fight for the buddies at their sides and to protect our country and the liberty enshrined in our Constitution. Not so they can live another day to post another selfie.
That vision of something larger than self is sadly missing among many of our young folks today. But we can change that.
How to Save Your Family: Rebound! Let’s Get America Back to Great!
A new book, Rebound: Getting America Back to Great, written by Heritage Foundation scholar Kim Holmes, goes a long way toward helping Americans recover our sense of greatness. I highly encourage your purchasing a copy for that young person in your life that may need to shift his or her focus from cell phone selfies to a vision of helping to preserve and promote something far more important than themselves - something like the enduring promise of freedom. Rebound helps readers see, with fresh eyes, what has made America great and what we must do to keep it that way.