Honest Preacher, Tom Cruise, Bored Panda’s 30 Teachers, and Chemical Imbalances

Honest Preacher, Tom Cruise, Bored Panda's 30 Teachers, and Chemical Imbalances The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

It’s been several years since I first saw the ‘Honest Preacher’ video by YouTube channel ‘Friend Dog Studios’ in which a pastor wearing vestments gets up to deliver his sermon on a Sunday morning, but soon enough instead breaks down in frustration with his congregation’s constant tendency toward sin and folly. He took a vow not to say who’s the worst, he tells them, “but it’s Dan!” 

Shortly after seeing this video, we all in my household learned the hard way the importance of noting your references before casually quoting them. My fourth son Daniel misunderstanding my statement as being about him and bursting into tears accordingly made that abundantly and memorably clear.

Of course, I soon calmed our Dan by explaining my reference. I assured him that he was not the ‘Dan’ I had just been speaking of, and then we all watched the video together. And though his eyes were still teary, he was smiling and laughing instead of crying by the end of it.

Now imagine a scenario in which instead of admitting my error I had carted my son off to a therapist, or even a psychiatrist. What sort of parent would I have been had I thought first to medicate him instead of helping him to understand my mistake and apologizing for it?

Along similar lines, Michael Knowles made me aware of an important medical study on his show yesterday morning. As it turns out, years and decades of heavy prescription rates of anti-depressants had no science backing the claim, believed by many, that these drugs were treating a chemical imbalance in their brains.

In point of fact, according to the paper published last week by University College London, there is nothing whatsoever supporting the belief many held to that they need help from pharmaceutical companies to manage their serotonin levels. Instead, the symptoms of other goings-on have been covered up and covered over with meds, more or less missing more holistic and traditional treatment of their root causes in the meantime.

Just so, it turns out Tom Cruise was nearly cancelled for nothing – or least the wrong thing. In a series of public interviews he did back in 2005, like this infamous one with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show, Cruise urged people to regard as pseudoscience the pushing of prescription drugs for anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorders, especially for children.

Back then, Cruise was called insensitive, judgmental, and uninformed for his remarks. He was right all along, though – at least about this. And actually, his genuine courage under fire on this point is all the more commendable to my mind given how thankless his efforts were back then, and how much flack he took for speaking up.

But all these things I read and listened to while a Bored Panda link my wife Lauren sent me the day before was still fresh on my mind. Therein, someone asked teachers and professors on Reddit what differences they have observed between schoolchildren from 1999, 2009, and 2019. The thirty answers highlighted show several repeating themes.

For starters, our kids are openly anxious, depressed, and unable to focus – even to the point of self-harm and suicide – at levels long-time teachers can’t help but remark on.

Mothers and fathers meanwhile have moved on from helicopter approaches to their sons and daughters, and now instead are increasingly described as “lawnmower parenting.” They race to remove any and all obstacles and challenges from their children’s path, and this is having the effect of children no longer developing any resilience.

Again and again, teachers and professors on Reddit report that kids today live in constant fear of making a mistake and amounting to nothing compared with previous generations. But, hey, at least they’re not as openly homophobic as they used to be. And some will regard that as a fair trade.

To my mind, these things are all connected. Overdiagnosis of psychiatric meds is of a piece with the overreliance on screen-time in lieu of moms and dads reading to and talking with their children.

Rising levels of obesity are of a piece with trends toward friends with or without benefits and the announcement of preferred pronouns to get even an iota of affirmation and support from the adults in their lives – their activist public school teachers especially.

No wonder our children are decreasingly able to regulate their emotional state or overcome even minor setbacks and annoyances. No one is teaching them how to. Everything is pushing and conditioning them in the exact opposite direction. Smart devices, video games, and social media babysit them. And when that doesn’t work, we take them to someone who will give them legal drugs to hide the pain.

But I contend that children are increasingly anxious, depressed, and unable to concentrate because their mothers and fathers are increasingly neglecting the fundamentals of good parenting. These would, if not neglected, ensure mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

What we have instead, then, is not a crisis of chemical imbalance, or the failure of systems like public education, first and foremost. Rather, we must recognize the increasing trend toward general inattention to duty and care of children, and the gross negligence by parents on a massive scale, whatever the helicopter and lawnmower parenting trends might imply to the contrary, particularly if the motives even there are self-serving and short-sighted, and more due to the ambitions and conceit of caretakers than the overall health and happiness of the children.

The hearts of fathers need to be turned back to these boys and girls. But who will be our John the Baptist to preach repentance, baptism, and the Kingdom of God accordingly?

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