The World and Everything in It: June 14, 2023
On Washington Wednesday, politics and the federal investigation of Trump’s handling of secret documents; on World Tour, news from Tunisia, China, Germany, and Colombia; and Cycling Without Age helps senior citizens get back on the open road. Plus, 100 days under the sea, commentary from Janie B. Cheaney, and the Wednesday morning news
PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. I’m Lori Consolazio in north central Florida. My husband Gary and I have two happily married children. We are excited to announce our first grandchild. A boy is on the way. I hope you enjoy today’s program.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! Former President Donald Trump is now arraigned and current President Joe Biden merely accused.
NICK EICHER, HOST: A former federal prosecutor ahead today on Washington Wednesday.
Also today, World Tour. We’ll tell you about the Colombian children lost in the Amazon but who survived.
And, bike rides for seniors.
AUDIO: We take it for granted, yeah. Until you know it's gone and you don't have the ability to get out and see all that.
And WORLD Commentator Janie B. Cheaney on the heavy burdens teens carry.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, June 14th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington has the news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Trump » Donald Trump delivered a fiery speech to supporters last night after pleading not guilty to nearly 40 felony charges in a Miami courtroom.
DONALD TRUMP: It’s Joe Biden and his corrupt department of injustice who think they are above the law. Never before have the two standards of justice in our country been more starkly revealed.
The Justice Dept. is charging Trump with more than 30 counts under the espionage act and six counts of obstruction of justice.
Trump said President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents was far worse, because it followed Biden’s time as vice president, and vice presidents have no power to declassify documents. Trump argued that he did nothing wrong.
TRUMP: In other words, whatever documents a president decides to take with him, he has the right to do so. It’s an absolute right. This is the law.
But prosecutors say that’s not so. And the indictment states that Trump was caught on tape showing classified documents to someone after leaving office and stating that he could have declassified those documents when he president but didn’t.
Trump blasts OK gov for endorsing DeSantis » Trump, meantime, says his campaign for president will go on unimpeded and vowed to stay in the race, no matter what.
The former president this week criticized Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt for making this announcement at a campaign event on Monday:
KEVIN STITT: We’ve got to defeat Joe Biden, okay? And I believe Ron DeSantis is the right guy to beat Joe Biden.
Stitt is the first governor to officially endorse fellow Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
The former president endorsed Stitt in his last election and took credit for the governor’s win. He complained that Stitt is backing DeSantis even though Trump said DeSantis is losing in the polls to both Trump and Biden.
However, DeSantis, like Trump, is leading Biden in an average of recent polls. Though, Trump is up on the governor by double digits in primary polls.
Missile attack Ukraine » A Russian missile attack killed 11 Ukrainians yesterday in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown.
Seven people died when missiles struck a warehouse, and four others were killed in an apartment building in the city of Kryvyi Rih.
CITIZEN [Ukrainian]: We were sleeping in the corridor. This saved us.
This woman is saying that she and her husband survived because they decided to sleep in a corridor after hearing reports that Russia had launched bombs. The missiles struck around 3:30 in the morning.
The capital city of Kyiv also came under fire, although air defenses destroyed all of the missiles.
Blinken, Stoltenberg » Secretary of State Tony Blinken addressed reporters alongside NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday.
Blinken laid out what he expects to happen at the upcoming NATO Summit in Lithuania.
TONY BLINKEN: I anticipate as well that you’ll see a robust package of both political and practical support for Ukraine.
And Stoltenberg laid out what he hopes will happen.
JENS STOLTENBERG: We all, of course, look forward to welcoming Sweden as a full member of the alliance as soon as possible.
The NATO Summit will take place in Lithuania’s capital city Vinius on July 11th and 12th.
Defense Dept inspector general report on Ukraine » But the U.S. isn’t waiting for the NATO Summit to provide more weapons to Ukraine. The White House Tuesday announced more aid to Ukraine.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says the package includes:
JEAN-PIERRE: Key capabilities such as Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, Stryker armored personnel carriers artillery rounds, Stinger anti anti aircraft systems Javelin anti armor system ammunition to us provided high Mars and more than 22 million rounds of small arms ammunition.
But a new report says the U.S. Defense Department has gaps and lapses in accountability in its delivery of military aid to Ukraine.
The Department’s Inspector General reports that paperwork sometimes is not filled out on weapons deliveries… making it difficult to track deliveries.
The IG’s office said it had no reason to believe weapons were actually lost in transit, but warned the situation could arise.
Inflation slows » The Labor Department says U.S. inflation is slowing down.
Consumer prices only 4 percent in May, down from April’s 5 percent increase. That’s the lowest reported annual increase in prices in more than two years.
Still, consumers are feeling price pressure.
CONSUMER: The cost of living goes up and they give us extra wages. You're still getting the same thing. Because It is still more taxes by the time you come home with your paycheck still the same thing or a little bit less.
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates roughly 5 percent since March of last year in a bid to cool inflation.
The Fed is meeting this week. Analysts expect the board will skip raising interest rates this month.
I'm Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the culpability of former and current presidents on Washington Wednesday. Plus, helping senior citizens enjoy the open road.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday, June 14th, 2023. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Just reminding you politely and straightforwardly we do need your financial support to keep moving ahead with WORLD’s Biblically objective journalism.
So this is our June Giving Drive. We decided this time around not to call attention to a specific goal.
The only number I’d introduce here is the number 85, as in 85 percent. That’s the fraction of WORLD’s operating revenue that comes directly from readers, viewers, and listeners like you. We’re not government-funded, wouldn’t want to be, couldn’t live with that.
No support from big foundations. You hear us say “listener supported.” You hear listeners every day saying “The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like me.”
Listeners like you. So not government. Not big corporations. Not big foundations.
REICHARD: As an aside, I’d point out over the past weekend, I read with some trepidation the changing of the guard at the Open Society Foundations. If you don’t know, that’s the philanthropy wing of the left-wing financier George Soros. The story was about Soros’s younger son taking over OSF. And the takeaway quote from Alex Soros, age 37 running a 25-billion-dollar foundation, was this: “I’m more political than my dad.” Which is hard to imagine.
But they are deadly serious. They mean business. They fund all kinds of projects, media included, because they believe that media can be used to change the world. And they intend to change the world.
EICHER: How arrogant, though, right? We are truly content to trust God and He supplies our needs. Every day He does, every year, every giving drive through listeners like you. And so we’ve got good program content we want to get to, so I’ll just leave you with this thought: Consider the value that WORLD brings, assign your own dollar figure to that, and make that your gift in WORLD’s June Giving Drive.
REICHARD: It’s funny, Nick, you saw in our Slack the comment from the one WORLD donor who said, “[Our gift] definitely does not reflect how very highly I think of WORLD. Because we couldn't afford that :grin:" I love that!
EICHER: Right, I should mention that. What is the value THAT YOU CAN AFFORD! Your decision, your family budget, whatever you can do you can do that easily and securely online today at wng.org/donate. And we’ll just leave it there.
Because it is time for Washington Wednesday. Today, legal peril for a former president, and maybe the current president.
Former President Trump was arraigned in a Miami courtroom yesterday. He faces dozens of felony charges around possession and handling of classified documents.
In total: 31 charges under the Espionage Act and six more charges for impeding an investigation.
REICHARD: At the same time, House Republicans are digging into allegations that President Biden was involved in a $10 million dollar bribery scheme during his time as vice president.
We will focus largely today on Trump’s legal woes as that case is currently unfolding.
EICHER: But first, let’s turn back the clock to the Clinton email scandal. In 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey held a press conference. He revealed that more than 50 email chains on a private server Hillary Clinton set up in her home contained classified information, including 8 chains with top secret information. But then he added this:
JAMES COMEY: Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.
With Trump now indicted, Republicans say there is a double standard here.
Joining us now to talk about it is Bobby Higdon. He is a lawyer in private practice in Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s the former U-S Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina and before that, 24 years as Assistant U.S. Attorney.
REICHARD: Bobby, good morning!
BOBBY HIGDON, GUEST: Good morning, Mary. Thank you.
REICHARD: Well, you were a federal prosecutor for many, many years. Do you agree with James Comey's assessment that no reasonable prosecutor would have brought a case against Hillary Clinton? And do you think there is a double standard on display here?
HIGDON: Well, I think there is a double standard. But let me back up to the first part of your question. I don't know whether I agree with Mr. Comey or not. Mr. Comey was leading an investigative agency. They don't make decisions about whether individuals get prosecuted. And that's where I begin with my concerns about any type of double standard is the FBI does not make decisions about prosecutions, prosecutors do that. Assistant United States Attorneys and federal prosecutors make those decisions. And so that case was handled inappropriately from the get-go because the investigative agency was the one announcing the decision with respect to prosecution or non prosecution. So the inconsistency begins there.
REICHARD: I see. Some experts who analyze this case say two things make it different from other officials who wrongly possessed classified documents. First is that Trump is reportedly on record as having shown a classified document to somebody after leaving office, and then clearly stating that he knew it had not been declassified. And he reportedly said, quoting here, "As President, I could have this declassified. But now I can't." So how big of a problem might that be for Trump in this case?
HIGDON: Well, you know, it's not clear to me that the the ability to to classify or de-classify is going to be all that relevant to the case. So what he's charged with is the willful retention of National Defense Information. Now, there is some language in that statute regarding that the possessor in this case, President Trump, had reason to believe that the information could be used to the injury of the US. But it doesn't really revolve around the classification. It revolves around it being Defense Information and failing to turn it over to officials that are responsible for keeping those records when asked to do so. And so it's a fairly narrow charge. And it's not clear to me whether it's going to turn on classification, rather than just the content of the of the documents.
REICHARD: Well, another difference here, according to prosecutors, we haven't heard the defense yet, is obstruction of justice. The indictment says that upon receiving a subpoena for government records that Trump told his lawyers, "I don't want anybody looking through my boxes," and added, "Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here?" Now, based on what we know, what's the legal peril with regard to obstruction of justice charges?
HIGDON: Well, obstruction of justice charges are not uncommon. This is something that prosecutors bring frequently, and it revolves around any effort to alter the testimony of witnesses to alter documents, the integrity of documents or to alter the availability of evidence. In other words, encouraging someone to withhold evidence, to lie about the evidence, to suggest it's not available that you don't have it, can all be the basis for an obstruction charge. The prosecutors in this case have laid out a pretty detailed, factual summary of what they believe that they'll be able to prove in court. And if they're able to prove that I think there's cause for concern.
REICHARD: Trump may also soon face charges of alleged election interference in Georgia. How long do you think that will take for those cases to be resolved? Is there a chance that we won't even have a verdict until after the Republican nomination or even after election day next year?
HIGDON: Well, it's hard to know with respect to the Georgia case, because that hasn't been charged yet, but when you're looking at the federal indictment in Florida, the case is now on a clock. We don't know exactly how fast the clock is ticking. But there are certain indicators in the law that give us some idea. You know, what will happen next is that, of course, the President appeared yesterday for his arraignment where he entered a plea of not guilty. That then begins the trial process, which starts with the exchange of discovery information, the prosecutor will be required to show the President and his attorneys all of the information that they have, that they'll use to prove up their case: witness statements, documents, any other types of evidence that they have, recordings, whatever those may be. And there'll be a period of weeks to months where that information is exchanged largely on a one way basis. There'll also be a timetable for motions practice. And I'm sure there will be a number of motions filed by the President's attorneys with respect to constitutional issues, evidentiary issues and any claims that they may have of misconduct by anyone involved in the investigation. The combination of those things is likely to take months. I could imagine that a federal trial would occur sometime early to mid next year. So you're right. It may occur right in the middle of an ongoing election where the President, the former president, is the leading Republican candidate right now.
REICHARD: All right, well, let's move on to the accusations against President Biden, now. Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have subpoenaed an FBI 1023 document. It is not classified, but FBI director Christopher Wray, says they can't hand it over without endangering informants or the integrity of the Bureau's investigations. Explain to us if you would what this 1023 document is, and what it reveals according to those who have seen it.
HIGDON: Well, these numbers are assigned---they're the form numbers that correspond with the type of document the FBI is using, and it has meaning to it. But I think what you want to focus on is what the director is saying. And this is not an uncommon thing, when they believe that it'll be a risk to witnesses or will reveal techniques and the manner of investigations, the FBI will often withhold that information, where they believe it's likely to get out into the public sphere. And of course, they're always concerned whenever they have to share it beyond their own body of agents or beyond prosecutors that that may happen. So that's what they're saying. I have no idea whether that's a legitimate claim or not, obviously, members of Congress are taking issue with that without knowing what the information is. It's hard to know. But that's why they're saying that in response to the request of members of Congress.
REICHARD: We know that President Biden and his son deserve the presumption of innocence. But if the accusations are true, what laws might have been broken here?
HIGDON: Well, again, I can only go on what I what I know from the public record and what what I understand the claim to be, but it would sound to me as if the claim is one of bribery, that in return for payments and other actions, I the president current President, I'm willing to take certain actions on your behalf, or to decline to take certain actions on your behalf, that's that's sort of a classic bribery case. If the public record or public reports are to be accurate, but you know, of course, we don't know, because we don't know what the evidence is that's contained in those reports, or what other evidence that the FBI or other investigators may have.
REICHARD: Do you think it would be appropriate to have a special counsel investigate the matter?
HIGDON: I do. Anytime that you're asking prosecutors to investigate their boss, and let's be clear, that's exactly what this is, when you have the FBI and the Justice Department involved, you're talking about agencies that work for the President of the United States. So it's in the, it's in the chain of reporting and so that's sort of to me classic when you would appoint someone from the outside, i.e. a special prosecutor, to come in and review the matter and prosecute it if appropriate.
REICHARD: Bobby Higdon is a former federal prosecutor now in private practice in North Carolina. Thank you so much, appreciate your time.
HIGDON: Thank you, Mary.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Tunisia migration — We begin today’s roundup in Tunisia.
European leaders visiting the North African country over the weekend pledged more than $1 billion in financial aid as they seek to curb illegal migration into Europe.
Leaders from Italy, the Netherlands, and the European Commission attended the Sunday talks. The leaders also pledged investment in undersea data cables and renewable energy and support for Tunisia’s border operations as part of a five-point support program.
Here’s European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen:
URSULA VON DER LEYEN: We will support Tunisia to strengthen its economy.
Tunisia’s economic struggles have pushed more people to risk dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. The country also serves as a major transit point for other Africans.
SOUND: [Speaking Arabic]
Tunisian’s President Kais Saied is saying the migrants are victims of a global system that treats them as numbers.
He made the comment during a surprise stop at a migrant camp in the coastal city of Sfax ahead of the meeting.
Last week, European Union member countries also agreed to share responsibility for migrants who enter the continent illegally.
China-Honduras relations — Next to China, where Honduran President Xiomara Castro is on day three of a six-day visit.
Honduras opened an embassy in Beijing in a further attempt to cement relations with the Communist country.
China’s state media said Honduras will still need to choose a permanent location and increase its staff.
SOUND: [Speaking Spanish]
Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina says he hopes the relations with China will create new opportunities.
On Monday, Castro and China’s President Xi Jinping signed 17 bilateral agreements, including in economy, trade, and education.
In March, Honduras established formal relations with China after breaking ties with Taiwan. China considers Taiwan a breakaway region and has increased its military threats against the island.
Germany NATO drills — Next, to Germany.
NATO launched its biggest air deployment exercise yet on Monday.
The Germany-hosted “Air Defender 23” exercises include practicing how to respond to a simulated attack on a NATO member.
The drill includes about 250 aircraft from 25 NATO and other partner countries.
Sweden, which is hoping to join the alliance, and also Japan joined the exercise.
SOUND: [Speaking German]
Germany’s air force chief saying the exercise shows that NATO members and its allies are able to defend themselves.
Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has prompted NATO nations to prepare for a possible attack on its territory.
Colombia children — We end today in Colombia’s capital, Bogota.
SOUND: [Thanksgiving ceremony]
Indigenous community members held a thanksgiving ceremony on Sunday after rescuers found four Indigenous children alive 40 days after their plane crashed.
The siblings aged 13, 9, 4, and 1 are still receiving treatment at a hospital in Bogota after their Friday rescue.
They were on board a single-engine propeller plane with their mother, a guide, and the pilot when it crashed in the Amazon jungle on May 1.
Authorities found the bodies of the adults on the crash site two weeks later.
Colombia’s army deployed 150 soldiers with dogs into the area. Volunteers from Indigenous tribes joined the search.
The soldiers found the children three miles away from the crash site in a small forest clearing. They used helicopters to pull the children up since the dense rainforest prevented them from landing.
SOUND: [Speaking Spanish]
This volunteer rescuer says the children asked for rice pudding and bread after their rescue. Authorities said the children were familiar with the forest and survived by eating cassava flour and seeds.
That’s it for this week’s World Tour.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Perhaps you remember the 1950s B-movie: Creature from the Black Lagoon? Well on Friday, a different kind of creature surfaced from Emerald lagoon near Key Largo, Florida.
SOUND: [JOSEPH DITURI UNDERWATER]
Joseph Dituri, also known as Dr. Deep Sea, teaches at the University of South Florida and for the last 100 days has lived 22 feet underwater! Breaking the previous world record by 27 days.
Here he is giving a Facebook update on day one back in March.
JOSEPH DITURI: I'm going to enjoy the warmth of the Sun. I'm going to spend time with my family and my loved ones.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Yeah, what a relief, no more of that!
EICHER: Perhaps you remember the 1950s B-movie, Creature from the Black Lagoon? Well, on Friday, a different kind of creature surfaced from Emerald Lagoon near Key Largo, Florida.
No more extreme pressha, no more soggy pizzah.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, June 14th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: riding a bike.
You never forget how, they say, but as you get older, it gets harder. For seniors in nursing homes, or people with health problems, it’s hard to get out and about.
But one organization is working to reduce their isolation through bike rides. Here’s WORLD Reporter Anna Johansen Brown.
SOUND: [People chatting and waiting]
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN: So how long have you been looking forward to this ride?
MARIKA: A week.
DAVID YEN: Since the last one.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN: About 15 people are sitting outside Sunrise Senior Living. They’re all waiting under the white pillared entryway, lined up in wheelchairs and walkers.
SOUND: [Ringing bell]
RIDER: Hey, I recognize that lady!
Alice Fellers pulls up wearing a neon yellow vest and riding a bike, but not a regular bike. It’s called a trishaw, and it has three wheels—two in front, one behind. Tucked between the front wheels is a cushioned bench seat, almost like a carriage. That’s where the passengers sit, feet tucked up on a footrest, with nothing to block their view. The biker, or pilot, pedals from behind.
BIKER: All right you ready? all right here we go! [bell ringing] Let's go, let's go!
Fellers is one of 40 volunteers with the group Cycling Without Age. They give rides every week at multiple assisted living homes and community centers.
When Greg Glover first heard about the program, he knew he wanted to be part of it.
GREG GLOVER: I thought, this is exactly what my mother would have loved. Because at some point, she, she loved walking and being outside, but then she couldn't do that. And so then she really couldn't do anything.
Cycling Without Age started in Denmark about a decade ago. Glover launched the McHenry chapter here in northern Illinois back in 2019.
The goal is to reduce isolation and loneliness for older adults. Get them connected, in a small way, to the community they live in. When Glover gives a ride, he always waves at people he passes on the street.
GLOVER: You know, it just brings a smile to your face. Some big burly truck comes along with a you know, big burly truck driver, and I’ll wave and he just waves right back.
Glover says those encounters are good for the community, too. Not just the people getting a ride.
GLOVER: Because they're seeing that, hey, these are real people, you know, they're they're still part of our community.
ALICE FELLERS: We have a special route around the neighborhood.
Alice Fellers pulls out of the Sunrise parking lot and heads out onto the residential streets.
FELLERS: I think I'm out of shape. I need to play more pickleball!
MaryAnne and MaryJean are the passengers for this ride. They’ve had hips and knees replaced and neither one has ridden a bike in years and years.
MARYANNE: Hey, good morning, or it's afternoon, good morning!
FELLERS: you got a couple of wild ones here!
There’s one particular house that MaryAnne and MaryJean are keen to see, every time they go out for one of these rides. It’s a new house being built. So every time they ride past, they like to see the progress the builders have made.
MARYANNE: Oh see the side, they’re doing the sides. The brick.
One house has dogs that always run out to bark as they ride past.
MARYANNE: Oh, the dog is here. laughs] I’m waving to a dog.
SOUND: [Dog barking]
They’re small things, but significant for the people getting a ride.
FELLERS: Those little things mean so much to them to get out and see those things and we don't we don't think about that. We take it for granted Yeah. Until you know it's gone and you don't have the ability to get out and see all that.
RIDER: Okay, we’re back! We’re coming around the mountain as we come.
The rides only last about 15 minutes. But the passengers will come back with huge smiles on their faces. Sometimes, Alice Fellers will hear from the staffers at assisted living centers. They tell her things like, it’s the first time we’ve seen that person smile.
FELLERS: It's so rewarding to to see how much it means to these people to get out.
But it’s also hard, helping people who are older, who have health issues, memory problems.
FELLERS: We have some memory care places and you might take someone out. And initially, they get confused. They're not sure what they're why they're out there where they are.
Fellers often sees the same people, ride after ride. Until, one day, someone isn’t there.
FELLERS: And then you come in, some people are no longer here, here, they passed on.
It gives you a sense of your own mortality.
FELLERS: Sometimes it's hard for them not having the freedom that they once had, you know, and you start realizing that well, we're probably going to be there at some point in our lives, too.
But it also is a reminder that although these seniors don’t have the mobility they once did, they still have value.
Greg Glover says he gets a lot out of his conversations with passengers.
GLOVER: They're still really vibrant people, you know, that hasn't really changed. They all want to engage in conversation, they all want have something to offer. They still want to live their life.
AUDIO: [singing] They’ll be coming around the mountain when they come.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, June 14th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD Commentator Janie B. Cheaney now on seeing our identity in light of Isaiah 46.
JANIE CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Our youth-oriented culture tends to idealize children as complete and unspoiled, lacking only the proper encouragement. Sometimes the message is explicit, especially when it’s aimed at marginalized groups: You are perfect, just as you are. But who really believes that? Don’t we all know that children are works-in-progress, or why bother to educate them?
In fact, much of today’s education is bent toward shaping a particular kind of citizen with a particular (leftward) worldview. And it’s working, sort of. But instead of bright, confident young people with clear ambitions and goals, teens are increasingly anxious and pessimistic. More and more research indicates this, including a fascinating study reported in Social Science & Medicine – Mental Health. The study used cross-sectional data of 86,138 high-school seniors from 2005 to 2018, marking a significant decline in well-being over that period. The decline registered across the political spectrum but was decidedly higher among liberal students.
Why are liberal teens so depressed? And not just in the United States. The journal American Affairs did a deep dive into the Social Science study, and others like it, and found the same pattern in 87 out of 92 countries: conservatives were happier than liberals.
American Affairs lists several possible conservative advantages, including faith, patriotism, family stability, resilience in hardship, and more. But here’s the one that struck me, particularly in regard to young people. To quote from the article, “In contexts where traditional forms of life, traditional social roles, and social structures are undermined, the acts of self-presentations, self-management, and self-creation become much more demanding and fraught.”
When kids are seen as being rather than becoming, the “act of self-creation” is both more urgent and less thoughtful. Identity is a decision for you and you alone—nobody can tell you who you are. Or who you aren’t. In fact, if you decide you’re a boy in a girl’s body or a permanent victim of an oppressed group, any challenge to that position is an assault on your very being.
Idols are heavy, whether gold or oak or personal identities. In these last days we’ve devised the heaviest of all: the burden of self. To tell adolescents that “You are perfect as you are,” or to, “Follow your dream and live your truth” is to weigh them down with expectations they can’t begin to meet.
“[T]hese things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts,” says the Lord to Israel of their idolatrous ways. “Listen to me, O house of Jacob: . . . even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and save” (Is. 46: 1,3-4).
Identity is a burden even grownups were not made to bear alone. No one entirely knows himself; it’s the Lord who knows, and the Lord who carries. May our overburdened youth find him before it’s too late.
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Nursing homes are facing a shortage of what makes a nursing home a nursing home: nurses. We’ll hear a report.
And the 50th anniversary of the Presbyterian Church in America.
That and more tomorrow. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio. WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Bible says: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” Hebrews 12, verse 1.
Go now in grace and peace.
WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.