Patriarch Kirill’s Speech at Students’ Forum Faith and Works, II

Continued from part I.

Now I would like to talk about a few concrete things. Talking about the issues of human life, I’m not going to especially separate the youth. Separating the younger generation, we reveal a certain paternalistic approach. Even when we talk about how wonderful our youth is, one can feel that it is as if we are looking down on them from above. After all, the youth doesn’t say, “How wonderful our old people are.” At least I’ve never heard this. But elderly people, have a desire to look down from above and say, “How nice you are, what kind eyes you have, how clever you all are.”

It seems to me that we have to just seriously speak about life; what difference is it if you are young or old? Both young and old endure pain and suffer from wounds inflicted. The youth is a mature part of our society. I think that the mistake of our pedagogics is reduced to its constant paternalism. We look down from above, love to constantly criticize, very much love to correct and demand that the youth must live as we lived previously or as we live now.

In actuality, youth is an organic part of the whole society, and one must use the very same language to talk with youth about problems as with people of older generations. There shouldn’t be any baby talk or patronizing. I remember how I first took part in a large youth conference. It was long ago in 1968 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It was the first time I was at a large, inter-Christian assembly; I was sent there as a representative of Orthodox youth of the Soviet Union. That was a significant year; those who don’t remember it know of it from books: in August, Soviet troops entered Prague. It was a very difficult time in the history of our country and of Eastern Europe.

The congress in which I participated was in March, a few months before those events. And I remember the feelings which I went through: various people, social and political, spoke before a huge auditorium of young people, and the thought crossed my mind that each one of them wanted to appeal to the young people-for that purpose they tried to use young people’s jargon and fashion. Out comes an old man and he tries to act like a young guy and look comical and caricatural.

We should speak with young people absolutely the same way that we talk with others: firstly, with great respect and love, for young people are the future potential, but, at the same time, using the completely serious language of adults.

I would like to, not separating, in this case, young people as a separate caste of society, speak about our problems, the problems of our lives. There is a grave danger in the way that informational society affects man. We truly live in a new reality, in a different world; this differentness has been mostly made by new images of social life, shaped by the colossal flow of information. Young people, of course, have become used to that, because many of them were born in the confines of an information society. Older people, however, have seen everything that has happened over the last 20 to 30 years with the country, with people and they are able to compare.

An informational society have a lot of advantages over those societies which were not so called and were not informational in fact. In the first place, this is a change to receive information and to grow intellectually. Today, only if a person is very lazy will he not grow intellectually. If one, however, controls their laziness then there are unlimited opportunities for intellectual growth: computer technology, which can provide us with any sources of knowledge, research work, which becomes more and more interesting to the point of captivation, for when one remains at home, such possibilities open up to them about which previously the thought of which was impossible. All that, by all means, pushes scientific and technological progress, but, on the other hand, there are all sorts of things in that informational flow!

This mighty flow of information has a colossal effect on people’s minds and on the state of their souls. Here a question arises: What should be our attitude towards this flow, for it can really sweep a man away, destroy his uniqueness, something of his originality and identity-spiritual, cultural, or ethnic. This is just how it happens in many cases.

This is exactly why it is so important to construct a system to sift through the information, to create a certain filter for oneself, which would help man, not only, to disregard the unnecessary, but to critically perceive whatever inundates them. Absolutely necessary for this is an internal criterion, with which a man would be able to actively perceive the incoming information and to use it for good, sifting out everything that could destroy the human person.

But, in order to have such a criterion, one should have a certain norm inside themselves. The concept of a norm is extremely important, but a norm is, again, formed somehow, and by something else.

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