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Life, not Suicide: A Call to Russian Orthodox Youth

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society of the Russian Orthodox Church, has appealed to contemporary young people to face existing social problems with heroic resistance. ‘When kiosks sell alcohol until late in the evening, when heavy drug use is considered normal, when we tolerate abortion, when illegal gambling clubs operate at all hours, as long as kickbacks and extortion strangle our economy, our society will remain a charade, intent on its own suicide’, said Fr Vsevolod said on Thursday 10 February at a parliamentary hearing on the formation of family values among young people. Fr Vsevolod urged young people to fight evil influences in society. ‘If young people can put an end to at least one of these phenomena in a given place, the generation coming of age in the 2010s has a chance to go down in history as a generation of heroes, they could put the country back onto its feet after its tragic downfall in the nineties, back onto a solid moral foundation’, he said. Fr Vsevolod stressed the importance of values both in society and for individuals. In his view, ‘A lack of character or moral values in society means that it will lack success in all spheres, economic, political and intellectual, but to avoid both personal and national failures, young people need to become masters of their own destiny and that of their homeland, by affirming moral laws in their lives’. In so doing, he believes, they should not only fight negativity, they must also affirm the values of love, loyalty, sacrifice and service. ‘Without them, and without building a proper family, people will never be happy. We need to speak this truth through our culture, media, and advertising…not through abstract moralising, but by showing actual examples of happy and unhappy people. I would encourage young people to formulate a moral agenda, to present it to the older generation, the authorities and business tycoons’.

Fr Vsevolod was speaking in the context of Russian/post-Soviet society, which has been ravaged by abortion, alcoholism and corruption, especially since the fall of Communism. However, we should note that there is little difference here with Western societies, which are also ravaged by abortion, alcoholism and corruption to varying degrees, albeit in more hidden and hypocritical ways than in the post-Soviet Union. Thus, wherever there are Russian Orthodox young people, whatever their nationality or native language, the same message of Fr Vsevolod applies.

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