Dreamers of the Day

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." -T.E. Lawrence, "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Space VII

As a teen, one always wants to be older in order to have more responsibilities so one could do more things. One wants to “spread their wings and fly” as the songs or quotes say. One wanted to experience true freedom, but is ignorant of the cost of freedom. The meaning of freedom seems to be lost these days. In a life of freedom, a free market system with thousands of choices each day to make, the consumer is caught up in the result of the choice than why they are making a choice to begin with. The action and art of choosing is lost in the chatter of materialism and profit. The true essence is one is continually establishing limitations while making more choices, but this truth is lost in the deceit of sales tactics and image.

This seems to be true in the current generation. In observing and listening to peers and other members of the generations, there seems to be a common thread in the frustrations of a job that is meaningless, love that is non-existent and a life that is purposeless. Many people will blame it on epistemology and say, “I don’t know what I want to do, who I want to marry or why I am here?” These questions are impotent because I think they are addressing the wrong problem. The problem is not the lack of knowing what to do, but the ability to make a choice. These same people cannot decide or make choices because they want to be free, they want to have no absolutes and live with no restrictions. This is post-post-modernism at its greatest moment.

Post modernism has been a huge asset to this world we live in. More creativity in the sciences and arts as well as philosophy and theology has developed during these times than any other time in history. The speed at which it has increased has been incredible and surpasses the greatest of the Renaissance and Reformation. Yet, this accumulation of knowledge and facts have been damning. In his book The Nature of Design, David Orr addresses this very issue stating that knowledge, as we know it today, has not been truly tested and is premature. Take for instance the development of atomic energy. The conclusion and use of the knowledge was rapid, but the effects and solution of waste management were not. In our world of speed, accumulation of knowledge and experience, the ability to choose and understand our limitations are quickly lost. Through ecology and understanding the affect we have on nature through global warming (or lack thereof, depending on your stance), humanity has begun the shift back to understanding our limitations, but we have miles to go.

As a citizen of a generation slowly understanding its limitations, the limitations of choice making is continually avoided. Many people will not commit to one job, profession or faith. There are countless reasons these could or could not exist, but to understand why this phobia exists must be observed in the definition of a choice.


At 8:20 AM, Blogger Trey said...

"These same people cannot decide or make choices because they want to be free, they want to have no absolutes and live with no restrictions."

Come to think of it, this sounds much like the chaff that's separated from the wheat. The chaff is ultimately free to be blown in all kinds of directions, but because there's no substance to it, that's all it does.

What's so interesting is that many people, me included, can end up being chaff-like without actively pursuing chaff-like ideals. When faced with an important choice, it's not that I lack the will to make a decision, I lack the will to make the wrong decision. Moreover, I actively want to make the right decision. However, when the Christian comes to the realization that he doesn't know all the answers, then it does remove some of his ability to unilaterally make a choice. He needs to listen for God's leading. That's where the frustration can set in, because sometimes we don't listen correctly, or sometimes we only listen selectively, or sometimes God just doesn't speak. And, since God has, like, 99% of the voting power, without getting that perspective, my 1% is pretty paltry. Certainly not enough to make me comfortable in making an important decision. That's where being the chaff comes into play.

Of course, it all comes back to fear--fear that my making a wrong decision is gonna fatally wound my ability to have a God-honoring life. That's an irrational fear, since God is much bigger than anybody's choices, wrong or right. God can work with anyone and anything, just as long as it's willing. But God can't use passive (faithless) willingness; he needs active (faithful) willingness.

Imagine a guy standing at the top of the ski slope of life. If the guy is passively willing, he'll say, "Okay, God, here I am at the top of the slope; push me." If the guy's actively willing, he'll push off on his own and say, "Alright, God, I pushed off; now it's time for You to do the steering."

At 9:01 AM, Blogger christian said...

Jason, I know I've already mentioned this to you before, but I keep waiting for you to say something about it, and you have not yet. So, may I offer that the ability to make a choice is not inherently limiting?

Consider a computer. It is programmed. Provided the programmer has not messed up the computer's programs (allowing for chaos), the computer can only follow its given set of commands. And it can only follow those commands as they are given to it. It cannot veer; it cannot choose. Even in simulated artificial intelligence, the computer only "learns" based on what it's programmer has told it. And it can only make informed decisions based on calculations made by the programmer. Any "random" choices made by a computer are based on static tables given to it by its programmer. It has no ability to make its own choices, and thus it is extremely limited.

Now, consider a human. We have the ability to choose one action versus another, with no pre-programmed responses stuck in us. If everything in us tells us, "Don't drink in excess," we can still choose to get drunk. So, we are free in our ability to make choices. Where we are limited is in our inability to choose every choice. We cannot choose to be both drunk and sober at the same time. We must choose one or the other - at least we must in one moment choose this. Thus, really, our limiting factor is not so much choice, but time.

Each moment only allows for a handful of decisions. Choosing "yes" eliminates "no" for one moment, though in the next moment we may choose "no" and eliminate "yes." Thus, a nearly infinite set of choices lie before us at almost any given time. It's just that at each moment, we can only make so many choices.

Yes, this generation does seem to have issues in making decisions. We are scared of the consequences of our choices because we can't see the end result. We, as Trey mentioned, want to make the right or best choice, based on how we see the situation at hand. However, we have such limited information about the present and future, it is nigh impossible for us to make a truly "informed" decision.

For the Christian, there is faith and a God who is not silent. We have a Father and Counselor who will lead us through every decision, even if we make one that is not pleasing to Him. Thus we can be comforted and peaceful in the midst of almost every decision. But, living in a world that is broken, we still deal with our "bad" decisions and the consequences they bring. And we fear dealing with those. If I buy a house, I will have a space of my own to live in. But I will be financially obligated to it for some time. This limits my ability to quit my job or spend money freely on vacations or gifts or whatnot. Our decisions of the present effect our options for the future. Thus, even with a great God who will get us through the worst of situations, there is much pain, frustration and disappointment to be had for bad or ill informed decisions. And, this is, unfortunately, a burden that this generation does not seem to weather very well.

At least, I know I do not do so well with it...

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Rose said...

Thought provoking post. Not two long ago I wrote about teens, love and relationships. It appears courtship is long gone among todays youth.


Post a Comment

<< Home