The message delivered in the commercial below is puzzling at first. In each case, the young boy on the left appears to be handing something “better” to the young girl on the right. But then you realize that it is actually a father handing something “better” to his daughter than he had as a child: the shabby leather basketball becomes a shiny synthetic one, the clunky old joystick becomes the multifunctional video game controller, etc.
It has been a common American aspiration to want to hand on something better to the next generation. And although it’s not an evil notion by any means, it tends to be overly materialistic. Most parents want to provide their children with more money, bigger homes, and more creature comforts than they had.
But I really wonder if today’s typical 3,000 square foot home is really better than the 1,200 square foot one I grew up in. Are granite countertops really better than the laminate ones I knew? Is being constantly available through cell phones really better than relying on the hit-or-miss nature of using phones attached to the wall in nearly every home when I was growing up? I don’t know, you decide. My opinion is that the “bigger, richer, more options” world of today has diminishing returns.
On a deeper level, do our children really fare better in a world of unrestricted abortion, rampant divorce, sexual confusion, and the diseases and dysfunctions that accompany them? Have smaller families, euthanasia, political correctness, and moral relativism really improved things? Is the world we Baby Boomers are handing on really better or is it just more technologically advanced? What good are bigger homes when they are empty? What good are granite countertops when families don’t gather to eat dinner together anymore? What good is the Internet when it often pipes in error, pornography, and false values?
What if the commercial instead depicted a father handing on a deeper relationship with God than he had? What if it showed him handing on a clearer sense of moral and theological truth than he knew? Well, I guess that wouldn’t sell chicken, would it?
There’s nothing wrong with chicken nuggets; they do taste great. But the better world we hope to hand on to our children cannot be reduced to material things. Deeper values have been lost and we Baby Boomers allowed them to be pitched overboard on our watch. Bigger houses and more trinkets aren’t what our children need; what they need is a better world. As a Baby Boomer myself, I can say that unfortunately we are passing on to them a real mess instead.
Allow this commercial to make you think, especially if you are a Baby Boomer.