Helplessness and Apathy in Teens During This Election Cycle

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

Some of the most noticeable reactions to the presidential election cycle are the overall helplessness and discontent of voters. After the second debate on Oct. 9, many reactions were dismay, helplessness and apathy. These reactions were not only byproducts of the debate but also the news generated daily about the candidates. The trouble is that they can have negative emotional effects on teens. If adults feel helpless, then how much more will teens and children feel helpless in this political environment?

There are three thought patterns that are detrimental to the development of mental health in teens:

  1. everything sucks
  2. it’s my fault
  3. it can’t be changed.

Many sentiments from this election express two of the three detrimental thought patterns. To thoroughly discuss these negative influences on teens is beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, I bring this up because youth ministry, the church, and a Christian family environment are the best means to counter negativity.

The Church is where people who have diametrical points of view can learn to love and care for one another; among Jesus’ disciples were zealots and tax collectors. The Church prays for civic leaders and participates in institutions with vastly different sets of values and assumptions. The Church invites people into paradoxes and mysteries that are uncomfortable for those outside of it. The Church points to the hope we have in the resurrection of Christ rather than the perception of dismay, helplessness, and apathy.

My hope for the Church and youth ministry is to help our members and teens engage in the public realm with Christ-centered spiritual gifts and tools to heal, reconcile, love, and care for many who are feeling helpless, dismayed, and/or apathetic in this election cycle. How do we accomplish this? I don’t have the answers, but I know that God will work through us to tackle this challenge.


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Trinity United Methodist Church is located in McLean, VA. Our weekly worship services are on Sundays at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. and on Wednesdays at noon. Sunday School is at 9:30 a.m. for children and adults. Children up to 6th grade are also invited to Children's Education during the 10:30 service. Adult Bible Study also occurs on Mondays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Please visit our website for more information.

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