Spring is a sweet, contemplative time of year, a time for reflection, taking a deep breath and sort of slowing down a bit from the tumult of harsh winters. At least that is what it should be.
But modern day springtime in the U.S. has become another thing entirely. Teens are out of school for spring break and for many it means raucous goings on at places like Palm Springs, Key West, Mexico and island resorts. Cutting loose and raising hell is the whole idea here.
Getting drunk and doing all kinds of stupid and illegal things has become the rite of passage for many young people. Even the older generations have gotten into the spring celebratory mindset, planning getaways at posh spas and beach resorts. Hey, it's party time! Yahoo!
It really is too bad that spring is now primarily associated with debauchery and fun, fun, fun. I guess many would call me an old fogey or stick in the mud or party pooper, or whatever but believe it or not I enjoy a good time as much as anyone. I like getting together with family and friends for a few laughs, and I look forward to having a few days away from home from time to time.
The difference is I don't have that manic need to breakout and push myself into a party frame of mind. The mindset that seems to be, "I'm going to have a great time if it kills me!" I don't believe this time of year should be represented that way. Spring is too special for that.
This week marks a holy time for Jewish and Christian believers. Passover and Easter has been the primary focus for many generations of Americans at this time of year throughout our history. Indeed it should be a time of slowing down and introspection, of thoughtful prayer, and of showing one's respect and thanks to the Almighty.
Sadly our culture has taken a 180-degree turn away from the spiritual nature of this season. Only 36% of Americans say they regularly attend religious services, nearly a third never or rarely attend and almost a quarter identify as agnostic or atheist, according to the Pew Research Center.
Add to that the fact that many religious orders and denominations have become ever more liberal in their teachings and interpretations in an attempt to align themselves with modern values and non-traditional ideas.
(I look at religious doctrine much like the U.S. Constitution, i.e. it should not be "a living" set of rules evolving and changing over time to adapt to new mores, but instead uphold the traditional virtues and tenets upon which it was originally established.)
Try to convince the young that the fulfillment one gets from attending a Passover Seder or an Easter sunrise service is infinitely more satisfying than a week of spring break partying. How do you demonstrate that life shouldn't always be about narcissistic gratification?
Given our selfish nihilistic culture it isn't easy. Mainstream music, movies, television, publications, and celebrity personalities are pulling the other way. It's too damn easy to be egocentric today.
Hard to show what complying to a higher spirit is all about, that you will actually feel more empowered by doing so. Or that the world doesn't revolve around you, that you contribute to the world by doing good works. How to convey the peace, warmth and comfort one gets from striving to live a life of virtue and selflessness?
This week many of us will worship our G od in tsynagogue or in church as our forefathers have done through the centuries. My people will gather around the table for the Passover Seder and once again recall the stories of the Exodus. My Christian friends will celebrate the resurrection. Besides the spiritual fulfillment, we will fill our bellies with good food and fill our homes with our loved ones. Gathering with our families is a highlight of this season.
As I said, spring is a sweet, contemplative, and inspirational time of year. A good time to slow down from the day-to-day grind and take inventory. Now that's a real spring break.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.