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next generation

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelliather Frank

These are painfully polarizing times. The recent behavior in Washington D.C. is a disgrace. The language used by some of our public officials is reprehensible. Our former president continues to act in public with language that is clearly unpresidential and not respectful. Who should the next generation look up to?

The power of positive example is clearly missing. In the past, no matter what your political affiliation, you could always have civil conversation. No matter what your political side, both sides could work together for the common good.

The blatant lies, manipulative dialogue, lack of truth and destructive ad hominem attacks make us look weak and foolish on the international stage. In simple terms, it is an embarrassment.

The weaponization of religion is even more disturbing. It is shocking that all major faith traditions including my own have remained so silent in all that is happening. This silence borders on the immoral. By this silence, they are complicit!

Many of us in the trenches are concerned about the next generation. What kind of example are we setting for them? Many talk about their moral compass being broken; I think our moral compass is destroyed.

Our schools are not being allowed to educate. Non-educators are butting in and infecting our curriculum with half-truths; some schools are being forced to rewrite American history.

Meanwhile, too many are blinded to the impact that the two years of the pandemic have had on our children’s development. Their basic academic skills are not on level. Many of their critical thinking skills are weak, and in some cases totally lacking.

However, what I find most disturbing is our children’s tendency to isolate and their fear of human connections. I have seen all of this firsthand in all of my freshman; many of them are exceptionally bright but very impaired.

What are we doing to address these concerns? Too often we get lost in the weeds and forget about our most valuable treasure — the next generation. I have seen firsthand their untapped talent and giftedness.

Our schools are the center of most of our communities. We need to work harder at supporting them fiscally and emotionally. We need to hold them accountable but we also need to allow them to educate our children and provide all of the support resources that are critical for our children’s holistic development, academically, socially and spiritually.

Education is one of our most vital resources that needs to be strengthened and supported. We need to invest in more creative ways to support our students to become the best version of themselves. They are our invaluable future.

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.