Our kids don’t believe racism is real, and that’s not great. But they also are measurably less racist than us. They have higher expectations of their employers in a time when employers treat us worse than at any time after the 1920s. They expect they can be whatever they want, because we told them they could.
And young people today are less religious than ever.
They don’t want to go to our churches, have narrow, pre-formed opinions. They want to wonder what else is out there.
They don’t hate gay people despite the language currently in use. “Gay” will soon drop out of current usage as meaning bad or dumb and get replaced with some other random word. Old or maybe a resurgence of boring.
My dad caught me practicing Latin one day. I knew one phrase: It is sweet and fitting to die for your country. Dulce et decorum pro patria mori.
The guy almost never hit me, and I was a very strike-able child, let’s face it. But he slapped me then, right across the back of the head. “Don’t be stupid,” he said.
He was right. I heard the lesson loud and clear. I no longer give a flying damn about Latin, and I’m a pacifist. It is patriotic to be critical of your country.
That’s young folks today. More critical than ever of the ways of the old America.
It’s not like in history textbooks, you see. The South rebelled against the United States of America because slaves made them money. America is founded on the back of slave labor. Native Americans, the Irish, Africans. We got rich making war on Germany and Japan — maybe the last righteous wars, maybe prosecuted with more racism than makes modern thinkers comfortable.
The Internet, a growing distrust of the government since Vietnam, the ease of attaining information coupled with the desire to attain it, have given our children an environment to grow up in that we never had. One in which we can not live as a nation in primary process (http://psychology.about.com/od/pindex/g/def_primaryproc.htm), just acting out all our impulses informed only by our own mythology, but one in which we’re confronted with choices.
What kind of person do I want to be?
Dogs don’t ask such questions. They are merely dogs, filled with dog-ness. Overspecified to sniff and taste things, to explore the world through the end of their noses.
People often don’t ask, but we can. We can. It’s called self-actualization: the ability to decide who to be then work hard to be that person.
Nations. Can they self-actualize? We’ve been living primary process for a long time now, maybe. Some parts of the country were founded on principles. The Quaker parts, the Puritan parts. Most of the country was founded on a different principle altogether: profit.
In Europe during the time of the pilgrims, all the land was already owned. Vassals farmed the land for lords who, if they were generous, gave back enough food to keep the farmers alive. The Americas were owned already, too – but by people who could not defend their lands. They didn’t have armor and soldiers and castles, or even disease immunities.
That’s the primary process below the myths. We aren’t a nation of religious freedom-seekers, peaceful and peaceable pilgrims. The real principle at work here is take what you want, get stronger and take more.
Our young folks have better minds than our elders. More modern, higher IQ’s built on the ability to think logically, systematically. Fantastic bullshit detection devices getting better all the time. That’s why they don’t want to go to church with you.
Because they know that a guy with a high school education who only studied 4000 year old texts cannot possibly know more about the world than they do. Cannot inculcate them into mystery, only into the same old answers.
That’s why they’re less racist: because they know that we’re basically all the same, that race is a social rather than a biological construct.
Our kids are better than us. Our parents looked at us and clucked their tongues and shook their heads – the world is going to shit, they said. The people who invented carpet-bombing, who built the nuclear bomb and dropped it on civilians, they decried the fading of moral reasoning among their children. And we do the same, and so will our children.
But they’re better than us. They’re better than us because we raised them to be. Just like our parents did, and theirs and so on back through the ages.
I hope there’s still time for it to matter.
For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.
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