Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We Win, Now What?

This is something my mom and I talked about that I've been chewing on a while.

In the Book of Mormon, we encounter the "pride cycle."  Basically, when the people are doing well, they get rich and civilize the land and everything, then they get self-centered and distracted and start getting into all sorts of trouble, then god sends something nasty their way, and as they rebuild they humble themselves and put their shoulders to the wheel, only to end up starting to do pretty well again and repeat the cycle.

We talked about why people might do this, and my thought was "boredom."  If you accomplish all the goals your culture has given you, you start running out of things to do with all the success you've had.  Even with spiritual goal available, it happens, since these spiritual goals are not very motivational in connection with everyday temporal concerns for most folks.  So, you start looking for novelty: dressing nice, trying all kinds of food, collecting expensive stuff.  Things to occupy your time, since society has accomplished its goals.
You might as well call the "Pride Cycle" the "Boredom Cycle."

We talked about the effect this has today.  More young people are moving back home with their parents.  They don't know what to do with their lives.  Is it that people became lazy all of a sudden?  Is it the culture of instant-gratification we've slipped into with computers and the internet?
I don't think so: those things are symptoms, not the root cause.  The root is boredom.
Think about it:  in the USA in particular, what common cultural goals do we have?  I'm not talking about the fiscal cliff and all that, that's just another sign of the apathy we've slipped into.
Do we all believe in the war on terror?  Environmentalism?  Nope, if you strongly believe in these things you're part of a fringe.

Do we believe in establishing American dominance over the world?  No, because we already DID THAT.  And we know it doesn't make life have more meaning: it might have while we were working on it, but once we achieved it it wasn't all that great, in fact it just made lots of people hate us and our young people lose their faith in the morality of their nation.

The point is, some previous generations had causes.  Wars we believed in, like stopping Hitler.  A "destiny" to tame the wild north-american continent.  A higher standard of living for our children.   But once we accomplished those things, we in the "middle-class" were left wondering what to do next.  Religion is a fading influence in the lives of young people because it doesn't really offer satisfaction to many, but even with religious belief many young people feel directionless.  There are causes that can be believed in, sure, but our culture as a whole has run out of things to believe in, and has turned to mindless entertainment just to stay alive.

When I am pretty suicidal, I play video games and watch tv.  It keeps me from thinking about the meaninglessness of my existence.  It's my opinion that our entire culture has begun to do the same.  And as the world slips toward disaster in a thousand ways, the jaded youth of the upcoming generation are not uninformed, their just indifferent, because they have nothing to save the world for.