Globalization, as an inevitable process, has demonstrated that our world can be experienced in a single place. A phenomenon or an event of human interest or concern, whether sociopolitical, economic, or religious, is almost instantly shared by fellow humans worldwide. Our good ole’ green earth is being turned into a cluttered, concrete global village–for better or for worse! Particularly, advancement in international communication, commuting, and commerce has wired us all together. Modern technology, transactions and transnational migration reminds us that “it’s a small world after all.” East has met West and local has become global.
Youth is that age in the human developmental cycle where the thirst for knowledge, the thrill of adventures, and the task of self-discovery are at their zenith. This formative stage can also be a vulnerable and problematic period, and no doubt globalization is a major influence. Our young people, with their choice of food, fashion trends, music, vehicles, careers, family values, and even moral judgments, are today’s powerful catalysts for propagating global ideologies. I can speak for south India where the urban youth are simultaneously shaping and threatening certain cultural values, as well as re-defining ethnic identity.
Globalization raises several issues, not just for Christian young people, but also for their parents and the Church’s ministry. For starters, let me ask a few general questions in seeking to understand youth culture and doing urban ministry that I find bewildering: How come we teach young people how to make a living but not much about how to live (Christian ethics)? In the light of the shocking rate of suicides among youth, how come today they have so much to live with and yet so little to live for (life’s purpose)? Why is it that when youth are in a crowd, they want to be alone, and when alone, they want to be in a crowd (identity crisis and security)? Why are they often restless until they get what they want, but then don’t want what they got (dissatisfaction and emptiness)?
Again, paradoxically, urban youth are MacDonald-ized–they prefer instant, time-saving products but it leaves with less time to develop lasting values (tyranny of the moment over leaving a legacy). From the evangelical tradition, in taking cultural norms and national ideals seriously, the good and bad news in globalization warrants some critical study. Increasingly, I believe that the challenge will be in resolving whether “Christian” ministry to the youth in India’s globalizing context will be socioculturally driven or biblically informed and gospel-shaped. I wonder what you think?