As a generation, what are we fighting for? First off, are we fighting at all? As history looks back on the whole of our impact in the grand scheme of our humankind, what will their conclusion be? Will we be the generation that not only spoke about change, but brought it about? Or will we be thought of as the generation with all the potential and opportunity but no real drive or organization to live out our stated beliefs?
The first time I watched the movie Amazing Grace I was with my good friend and former roommate Kyle Carlton. As we watched the incredible story of William Wilberforce unfold on screen I was shaken by the intention, determination, and depth to which his conviction propelled him to act. It was his belief and intention that led to the end of the slave trade and changed the world for the better.
In a conversation with his best friend and soon to be Prime Minister, William Pitt, Wilberforce declares, "No one of our age has ever taken power;" to which Pitt replies, "Which is why we're too young to realize certain things are impossible. Which is why we will do them anyway. " When the two men smiled at each other in the movie, I couldn't help but think through the countless conversations of a similar nature that I have had with Kyle and with other big dreamers in my world. What are the great things we will do and with what conviction do we believe that we are called to do them?
I was loosely engaged recently in a conversation with two older gentlemen who when discussing my generation made the sweeping claim that "they think it is en vogue to be outraged by whatever the latest travesty in the world is, but they do nothing more than join a Facebook group or rant on their blog to show their disapproval." I held my tongue because I knew it was true. I join Facebook causes and rant on my blog. I gave $20 to help end global "whatever it is this week" and have well formed opinions about a lot of social and economic policies that I see as being terribly off course, but what did I actually DO about it? Did I endure any discomfort of my own to change the discomfort of the oppressed? Did I make a true sacrifice of my time or possessions for something that I said I believed to be worthy of attention? Or is my happiness, our happiness, of higher priority than the gritty grimy down and dirty work of change. Not the en vogue change that gets you elected to the White House or looks good on bumper stickers or Facebook status updates; real change.
Where are the revolutionaries and radicals? When are we going to wake up and realize that the things that we are wasting our lives on are nothing in the grand scheme of history? 20 years from now, will anyone really care who won American Idol Season 8? Is the conclusion of Lost really going to change the way that you interact with your fellow man and he with you? Does the 6 CD changer in your new car really make it that much better of a driving experience?
"I see all this potential, and I see squandering. Damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."