Grandma v. GaGa: The Inevitabile Arrogance of Youth
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a hundred times: "X liberal, progressive issue is inevitable because the youth of this nation are unanimous in their agreement with it."
Most recently, that has been attributed to the issue of same-sex "marriage." As part of the broader, "inevitability" argument, those who want to redefine marriage suggest that we traditionalist, stuck-in-the-muds ought to get out of the way of progress. In fact, they go further. Not only are we holding back progress by clinging to our morals with antipathy, they suggest our only basis for this belief is irrational, bigoted, and homophobic.
"After all," the argument continues, "Same-sex 'marriage' is inevitable because it's not big deal to the 20-30 year-olds." They say, "The next generation are overwhelmingly tolerant of homosexuality, so stop being so intolerant."
I submit that this condescending attitude is not the product of the most recent culture war over the issue of human sexuality; rather, it is a by-product of our culture's devaluing of the dignity of human life.
No country for old men.
Just look at our marketing today. Most everything is premised upon the suggestion (implicit or otherwise) that old is bad and young is good. As a result, we have trained ourselves to up-end centuries worth of history that taught us that with age comes wisdom. Today, rather than look to those whose years have provided wisdom by experience and learning, we look to those who are most youthful, who look wise by virtue of their smooth skin and well-quaffed hair.
In contrast, what is old is decrepit. Following menopause and midlife crises, women and men are on the slow, steady decline to the grave. Their expiration date is well in view and, culturally, we reject them like the box of Twinkie's you discovered in your grandmother's cupboard: sure, it looks enticing, but can anything that old good for you?
Looking to the young is a bad way to make culture-shifting decisions.
It's NOT inevitable.
That is why I just do not agree that our country's wide-spread acceptance of homosexuality and the redefinition of marriage is inevitable. Yeah, sure, ok, maybe it's popular right now. Anything that keeps you from being called a, "bigot" is going to be popular by virtue of the fact that people don't like to appear intolerant in a culture where the chief virtue is not virtue, but tolerance - your ability to agree with the prevailing wisdom of the world regardless of its connection to moral or rational plausibility.
But, popularity, like the beauty of youth, fades. Let's suppose that same-sex "marriage" does, somehow, become the law of the land. What happens when the slick, fashionable, popular image of homosexuality fades? What happens 20 years from now when same-sex 'marriage' really lets itself go, its hairline recedes and it gets a beer-belly?
If Mark Twain's aphorism of his father ("My father was an amazing man. The older I got, the smarter he got.") is true, then rather than bet the future on what the youth vote says, we ought to consider that the youth have something yet to learn.
A country for old men.
Rather than follow popularity, I would urge my generation to stop and talk to their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others of later generations. Ask them how their perspective over the years has shifted and changed. Learn how they have thought through issues and ideas once thought to be popular, but later left on the heap of history as yet another failed, but good, intention.
In short, in our culture's obsession with youth, we ought not to look to the youngest, most beautiful among us for charting a thoughtful, wise course of action. Not only is that vanity, it inherently devalues the dignity of human life.
The next time you hear someone say, "It's inevitable, the young generation already accepts it," ask them why our culture should reject the wisdom of grandma for the faddishness of Lady Gaga?