Born at the end of President Ronald Reagan’s first term and raised in the relative wealth and convenience of the technology age, I am a member of the millennial generation: The most libertarian generation, the most connected generation, and, as of the last few weeks, the most confused.
Ours was to be a generation of dreamers, unfettered by the silly traditions of our parents and grandparents. We were told that all we had to do was believe, without knowing what to believe in. We were told that faith would get us through, without any inkling that the value of faith is contingent upon its object. We were told to be nice for the sake of being nice, by a previous generation that still held vestiges of morality, while ceding the intellectual foundation that such morality requires.
[sharequote align="center"]The problem with throwing away truth, is that truth is a boomerang: It’s going to come back fast.[/sharequote]
Then we were soaked in Disney movies and pop songs advising us to listen to our hearts, follow our dreams, and be true to ourselves - consequences be damned. It all seemed quite innocent, even inspirational, at the time.
I mean who doesn’t want to follow their heart? Who is not inclined to be true to themselves? Even as a kid raised in a Christian home, I still cheered for Aladdin, Ariel, and Mulan defying authority to do their own thing. They always came out on top, things worked out, and in the end, following their heart was always the right thing to do. Nearly every Hollywood hero of my lifetime was a longshot dreamer who always won big and lived happily ever after. Had we grown up with some older cartoons, we might have at least been treated to the tempered warning in “Pinocchio” - that following your heart without following your conscience lands you in a world of senseless jackasses.
Which is the world we’ve landed in today.
It seems that my generation has finally taken Disney’s advice to its obviously illogical conclusion.
Our desire to flaunt common sense, defy definitions, and bend the rules has gotten us lost in a fog of baseless and conflicting wants. We no longer have to worry about following our friends off a cliff per our parents’ proverb, we now seem willing to follow our own hearts off of it.
When we want something we follow it unquestioningly, fighting everyone and everything that gets in our way. I would say that we tend to disregard the question of right and wrong, but really it’s not so much that we disregard it, as we don’t even comprehend the terms anymore.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia encapsulated the problem brilliantly in his dissent to Thursday’s ludicrous Obamacare ruling when he said that “words no longer have meaning.” Within the context of the last couple weeks, what other conclusion could anyone draw from our headlines?
The question just begs to be asked:
The answer, according to the Follow-Your-Heart Generation, appears to be “Why not?”
The celebration that exploded across social media in the wake of both rulings seems to have no grounding in fact or logic; and that’s okay with the left, because such things are rendered unnecessary by pictures of smiling couples and feely hashtags like #LoveWins.
Trying to have sensible discussions with folks on these two decisions was like arguing with my 13-year-old self, back when there was some degree of novelty to defending the ridiculous just because it made me feel smart. Supporters of both decisions had been behind the majority since before either was made, and long before they knew what rationale would be used to justify it. The court could have cited the "Three Stooges" in the Obamacare case and concluded their marriage decision with “because, potato” and hordes of leftists would have rushed to the comments section of The Huffington Post to express their teary-eyed pride at the compassionate brilliance of the court that had just secured happiness and equality for everyone.
Affordable Care Act supporters hold up signs outside the Supreme Court as they wait for the court's decision on Obamacare on Thursday, June 25, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
I wish I could say that such inane gushing was limited to the realm of the status update, but it actually managed to find its way into a pair of majority opinions from the highest court in the land - both citing a lot of feelings and intentions, but employing about as much Constitutional and legal reasoning as an episode of “The View.”
I’m not sure the court - or any of their new fans on the left - have stood back to examine the damage these decisions have inflicted, not just on morality, marriage, and health care, but on basic reason and rationality. Among the millions of jubilants parading their new win across the twitterverse, has anyone stepped back to consider the consequences of living in a nation where man might actually mean woman, black could really mean white, the text of a law is subject to what the court thinks Congress might have meant, and where someone’s sexual preference is paramount to decisions of national law?
If anyone has, it is likely that they shrugged it off with relative ease. After all, this feels right! It feels good! Look at all the happiness! How could this be bad?
Nevermind that the Supreme Court has just legitimized the discrimination claims of polygamists, pedophiles, and those in incestuous relationships. Nevermind that the definition of “state” must now be suspected of actually meaning “not state, but federal” in pretty much every future law passed by Congress, ever. Nevermind that the Oberfell ruling places Christians and other faith groups squarely in the legal crosshairs of a newly-declared civil minority that has already shown itself utterly hostile to people of faith. Nevermind that the anchors of our very vocabulary have now been hoisted up to allow us to flow freely along with our confused and conflicted feelings.
It’s all good, because, hey, #LoveWins.
Supporters of same sex marriage rally in front of the Supreme Court awaiting a ruling to legalize gay marriage nationwide, on June, 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. From left are Keith Naylor, Bonnie Casillas, Jonathon Contreras, and Hannah Stabler holding balloons that spell the word Love. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
We have earned this insanity. It is the birthright of my generation. We are convinced that we have the power to speak things into being. If we call marriage the union of two men, it must be. If we declare that state means federal so that people can keep bumming their coverage off of taxpayers, then that’s what it means. If we call conservatives terrorists and Islam peaceful, reality steps aside for our proclamation.
But the problem with throwing away truth, is that truth is a boomerang: It’s going to come back fast, and if you’re not looking for it, it will probably hit you. We can rewrite the definitions all we want, but as the father of our language put it, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
A rude awakening is coming to millennials, and it’s right around the corner. Reality is about to pop the bubble of self-righteous tolerance that has settled over Washington. D.C., and it has already begun.
Americans are finding out that no matter how many times we tell Islamic State that they belong to a peaceful religion, they just keep beheading people. My generation is discovering that we - and our parents - have followed our hearts into $18 trillion of debt, and that all the “free” things that we were promised from government weren’t free at all. We’re finding that no matter how many times we declare ourselves righteous for our indignant crusades against racism, sexism, and intolerance, our country is still sinking in undeniable immorality, soaked in the tears of broken families and bathed in the blood of 58 million aborted babies.
As Ayn Rand famously said, “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality.”
We have followed our hearts to the only place our hearts could have led us - to conflict and confusion. This might explain why we are now also the most cynical generation. With endless information and expert opinions instantly available to substantiate both sides of every conceivable issue, we see no reason to trust anyone.
Is there a way back from this? Can a culture survive the loss of its own definitions and identity? Can we reclaim our laws, our institutions, our liberty, and reason?
I guess that depends on how you define “definitions,” “identity,” “laws,” “institutions,” “liberty,” and “reason.”
After all, if definitions are up for negotiation, "then war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength."
Feature Image: Shutterstock
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