By Joshua Young –
*Joshua is a friend of The Jagged Word and a young professional analyst who is a graduate of Concordia University and lives in Irvine, CA.
My reality is the only reality I need. I don’t need a man. I don’t need God. It’s not my responsibility. I don’t need to get married. I shouldn’t have to prove my dedication, competence, etc.
There is a growing trend, especially among young people, that their paradigm is the only one that is necessary to successfully navigate life for themselves. 300 million Americans, and 300 million versions of America. There is one little problem with this trend; you do not exist in this world by yourself, and you will not go through life without interacting with others. To put it bluntly, you are not that important.
It is completely selfish to assume that each person need only understand his lense of the world. If every person becomes increasingly “self-important” then, increasingly, nothing will be sacred. You don’t even have to take my word for it. Americans are already deciding that nothing is sacred. Over the last 70 years the percentage of Americans who believe in God or any universal spirit fell from 96 to 86 (Gallup). According to a joint study by Time Magazine and the Pew Research Center (2010), 39% of Americans now believe that marriage is obsolete, vs. 28% in 1978. This trend represents the destruction of community as something good, and frankly that should be something that scares you.
Without community what are you left with? An isolated existence. If you combine that with the fact that less people believe in God or marriage, then your isolated existence is lonely and without meaning. Many people fill this void with pursuits. Pursuits like the “pursuit of financial stability,” the “pursuit of sexual satisfaction,” or “the pursuit of social status” don’t actually take us anywhere. Let us take a look at those pursuits:
The Pursuit of Financial Stability: I work very closely with a people who define themselves with this pursuit. They have marriages with no love, nannies that see their kids more often than they do, and moral scales more heavily weighted by the next bonus than what is actually right and wrong. But they have a $75,000 cars and some really expensive shoes; so it’s worth it, right? The issue is, to quote a friend, “you can’t take it with you.” To define yourself with something that is here today but not tomorrow can’t lead to long term satisfaction.
The Pursuit of Sexual Satisfaction: Similar to the pursuit of financial stability, the pursuit of sexual satisfaction cannot lead to long term satisfaction. All other considerations for love and your soul aside, there is no long play with sexual satisfaction. Your mind and body will grow old leaving you with no tools to engage in this pursuit. So if this is how you define yourself you, will find only emptiness in the end. (Read the “The Kids Aren’t Alright”)
The Pursuit of Social Status: To address the pursuit of social status, we must ask why one desires social status. Why does one feel the need to make a mark on this world, to be remembered? This is an admission that your time in this world is the only time you get, and that you want to leave a legacy that will last. However, the logic is circular. If there is nothing more after death, then there is no need for fame, no use for a legacy. You can’t enjoy it, you can’t remember it, and it will serve you no purpose.
My generation, the millennial generation, has largely been appeased most of our lives. The result, unfortunately, is sin. Our parents solved our problems for us, so now we choose not to solve problems. We have been told not to get married early, so we have sex before we’re married. We are about to be the largest spending group in the United States, so businesses spend their time trying to give us what we want. In fact, everyone is giving us what we want and we (myself included) have learned that we can have what we want without consequence. Our world has become without consequence.
If there are no consequences, then anything that is not easy gets brushed to the side. Marriage is not easy, and fewer millennials are getting married. Faith is hard, and less millennials have faith than any generation in the last 100 years. Meeting new people is hard, so we choose to stay inside and experience the world through our devices. But that is no way to live! We gain nothing by only recognizing our own paradigm. We need to go out into the world, do things, make things, and engage people with opinions that differ from our own. We need to do these things, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”