At Starbucks, it’s interesting to eavesdrop the conversations. “My teacher don’t teach right.” “My husband can’t do it.” “What we gonna do later.”
There’s an intense interest in the doing of things –
But underneath a bored, suffocated detachment from the actual thing itself.
We are furiously invested in our earthly engagements – but very quick to disengage when we lose interest. Which happens quickly.
We are choked out by a massively soul-demanding schedule pulled in all directions. We live in a swirling mass of deadlines, phone calls, papers, drama, bills, health, family, good news, bad news.
We have to react to these things, press buttons, return calls, mediate, never hesitate.
None of this intense detachment is our fault — because making a lot of passionate noise is often all that makes sense to us.
There’s no time to reflect, meditate, to ask why. Can’t slow down this train.
We are constantly “dabbling” with great fervor.
Most of us never see how flaccid and futile this dabbling really is.
We get easily caught up in non-essential freedoms.
We contend for “rights” to free internet, free checking accounts, contraceptives, same-sex unions, better labor conditions, religious properties and space, medical care, or fair market.
These are important, even critical issues. But I have to wonder: in what direction are they going? By what authority do we have these “rights”? And how do they have a louder voice than attention to poverty, genocide, suicide, misogyny, and actual human dignity?
We sign petitions as if this is movement, but often fail to lift a finger or give a penny for the physically disabled and dying.
Then we do, but it’s for show, to boost our reputation and put in the good work for a day, to appease our troubled conscience.
It’s not that this generation does not fight for the right things. More than ever, there’s a lot of motion. It’s that we make sure it costs us as little as possible with the least amount of sacrifice.
We keep a foot out the door for easy escape.
This is the least committed generation to the most critical of matters. And we have gone to the well of entitlement over a mountain of bruised people, raised flags that we’ve stabbed into bodies, used broken necks as our podiums and platforms.
We’ve made great importance out of issues while destroying the people we clamored for.
It’s a cultural symptom that points to the larger epidemic. It’s because the Lesser is made Greater. The passing is made permanent. The temporal is made ultimate. The parts of life are made into life itself.
C.S. Lewis said: All the animal life in us, all schemes of happiness that centered in this world, were always doomed to a final frustration. … If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon.
We do not do much that outlasts itself and lives beyond us. And the few things that last — justice, charity, creative freedom, equality, and grounded authority — only last because they are intrinsic to God’s Nature and the Kingdom of Christ.
We see for some moments at a time, like an intuitive reflex of remembering a different time, a paradise. For a moment, maybe, there is an existential panic that there may be more than this rented country.
But we have so slyly learned to train our ignorance and denial.
There are other moments, like a puncture wound in your heart –
When you truly feel a weird thing called joy. Not happiness, but real joy.
Maybe you helped someone without expecting anything back.
Or five minutes of conversation with actual human eye-to-eye contact changed the course of someone’s day from driving off a cliff.
You volunteered time or money to some charity work.
You appreciated someone for who they are and not what they do.
You got to have five minutes of solitude to think for yourself.
I believe these things lit us on fire because –
They’re intrinsic to God’s nature and the Kingdom of Christ.
Once in a while, God breaks in, intrudes and intervenes, hands us His weapons of supernatural goodness – and we see for a moment the truth to our existential desires.
We see that the true fabric of reality is a tapestry where we’re called to engage with fellow living breathing human beings. We are not meant to be pro-this or anti-that. The dichotomous binary squabbling of all our dogmatic squabbling cannot even begin to accommodate for the real people inside those issues.
Unfortunately, the world will beat it out of us: any notion that there is more than this very short life. Comedians, satirical commentary, cynical writers, reality shows, tragic news stories. — they all serve to make light of heaviness.
The robotic-cog-of-society routine will rip out every last part of you. The very American ideals of Neurotically More-Productive-Bigger-Efficient-Image only hollow us out into enslaved lever-pullers. The temptation of sex outside of God’s intentions – turns us into zombies.
All these one by one rip out every last part of you – squeeze hope out of us. A lot of us will run to self-selected imprisonment, to idolatry, to numb ourselves.
But a few, just a few – will pursue the essential truth and what is real.
A few will remember how it was meant to be, before entropy.
A few of us will fight for the permanence of eternity.
A few of us will see eye to eye, not on issues, but on humanity.
No one is meant to be far from the truth for too long. I happen to believe truth has a name. And whether you believe that, I will not furiously invest in my ideology. I will fight for you instead.