Get High On Life: Teen-age anger needs God’s love

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2002


I am so thankful for all the people that God has put in my life. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not blessed by meeting someone special whom I can call a friend.

A couple of weeks ago, one such friend, the Rev. Jules Thomas Jr. of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, and I met at the Reserve post office. Brother Thomas, a black man 73 years of age, is always a blessing to me. His big smile, his sweet spirit, and everything that a Christian should be are exhibited by him. He is, indeed, a walking billboard for what Jesus can do in a man’s heart.

Even though I always enjoy seeing him, this particular day it was hot and we were talking outside the building. To be perfectly honest, I was anxious to get in my air-conditioned car.

As our conversation was about to come to a close, he said, “Brother Keller, what’s wrong with our young people? They are so angry!” “Just this morning,” he continued, “I greeted three young teen-agers with a smile and a pleasant ‘good morning.’ One of them, with hatred in his eyes, shot back, ‘What’s so good about it, old man?'” I could see the hurt he experienced by being rejected when he was just trying to spread the love, joy and peace of God.

I then shared how only a few months ago, at this same post office, I held the door open for a young teen-ager and said, “Let me hold the door open for you, little brother.” (Had his eyes been daggers, I would be dead.) He replied, “You ain’t my brother, you %^$*($*.” I was shocked! But why such hostile exchange?

In Chuck Colson’s book, “Justice That Restores,” he states that our young people have no purpose in life. He refers to a warden, who was a friend of his, saying that it is almost impossible to talk to some troubled teen-agers about what’s right and wrong; they have no idea what you’re talking about. He also said that many young people act like savages, lacking any human characteristic of decency.

A prime example took place in New Orleans over the weekend when Vinicia Smith, age 16, was killed by a mob armed with knives, sticks and boards with nails. Vinicia’s death was caused by a knife wound to the chest, inflicted by a 12-year-old. One of her accomplices, a 14-year-old, was arrested.

In Colson’s book, he said that the sad conclusion one must draw from such a case, and many others, is that we have failed in the most basic task of civilizing society through inattention to the moral and spiritual development of our children.

An alarming fact is that much of the increase in crime, particularly violent crime, has come from juveniles. Violent crime by juveniles increased from 18,165 in 1960 to 123,400 in 1997. Our criminal population, according to Colson, is getting younger and meaner. One warden said that a few years ago, one of the big problems in prisons was protecting the young criminals from the older ones. Today, it’s completely reversed. The older criminals need protection from the new breed of young criminals.

Yes, Brother Thomas, many of our young people are angry. Do we have laws to protect us? You bet we do – 135 million on the books. We have 135 million laws to try and do what the Ten Commandments can do.

HAROLD KELLER writes this column as part of his affiliation with the Get High on Life religious motivational group. Call him at (985) 652-8477 or write to P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084.