We’ve been duped! Actually we’ve been suckered…we’ve all been suckered into a really bad story. What’s this story I’m speaking of? It’s the story of progressive morality that’s been sweeping through the land like a plague. Except this story isn’t titled “Progressive Morality”, nope that would be too obvious; people wouldn’t hop on that bandwagon. The story has been titled many things but perhaps the most effective title has been “Follow Your Heart” or “Capture Your Dreams”. This story of progressive morality has been drilled into the heads of our yougfolk in what is quite possibly the most effective propaganda-indoctrination machine ever conceived: The Disney Chanel, Nickelodeon, public schooling, etc. The story has come to us in a myriad of shapes, sizes, settings, protagonists, antagonists, and mediums but the story has always been the same. The story follows an extremely predictable storyline with four main points: 1) Angst 2) Captivity 3) Freedom 4) Happily Ever After.
If you can show me a culture filled with more pointless angst than our own I will give you a $100 bill. Almost universally, young people are filled with a shallow angst over the “hardships” they are facing: they don’t like their school, they don’t like their job, they don’t like their parents.
The deep felt angst and oppression the young people in our culture are able to muster over such tremendous trifles (thanks Chesterton) in and of itself is proof that they’ve been learning how to do it for a long time. They’ve been learning to muster this deep felt angst from the story they’ve been reading since they were knee high to a grasshopper. They’ve watch countless Disney movies and T.V. shows that have shown them a protagonist that is dealing with some “serious” troubles that have caused them to hold a deep oppression down in their gut. This oppression is often dealt out by traditional authority figures like parents, which leads up to our next point.
These traditional authority figures or norms, most often parents, hold the “protagonist” in their confinement which is bringing them such angst. They don’t want to do what the family has always done! They feel like they were meant for something more. Moreover, when people come along and tell them that their dreams are a facade, those people are depicted as individuals who are blind to the seer-abilities that the protagonist has acquired through a revelation in deep felt angst. The protagonist is then given an opportunity to break off the shackles of their oppression which leads us to the next point.
By means of a new intruding character or by happenstance, the protagonist is afforded the opportunity to break free from the confines that breed their angst. They are given an opportunity to leave the oppressive family or community that just can’t see what they can see or dream what they can dream. This scene usually involves a clumsy or “scary” transition for the protagonist which gives some semblance of truth to the fears of the oppressive community. However, the protagonist (and the audience) eventually find that the world outside the bounds of oppression can offer freedom that allows the protagonist to shake off the angst that has held them for so long, which brings us to our last point.
Happily Ever After
The story ends. The protagonists has broken free from the vestiges of oppression by either escaping or proving to the former governing authorities the rightness of the protagonists new found way. In either case there is a “new beginning” which has only hope and increase out in front of the protagonist and their new found life/love/freedom.
The problems with this story are legion, but not necessarily in the storyline but in what it communicates to the audience. Young people are taught that their naturally arising desires are pure and undefiled. Moreover, the notion that a governing authority should direct and admonish these desire is seen as an unpardonable negative. The next thing they are taught is that removal from home is a truly viable solution to the problem. Finally, the story fails to work out the consequences of such actions to the end. The story ends before we see that ideas and actions have consequences, particularly generational consequences.
Our culture has been taught to think in live in a very selfish way. Thought for prior and future generations must be sacrificed to the fleeting passions of self. Passions give rise to actions rather than allowing the right actions to guide the passions. This story of progressive morality has eked its way below out feet and under our skin that it is hard to detect. We breath its air and swim in its water. The story pervades our lives and it is a sad, sad story. There is no glory is severing all essence of home to pursue selfish passions. There is no weightiness to selfishness. We need a better story. Not one in reaction to this story of progressive morality but a story that shows the glory of fight for that which is true and good and beautiful. We need the story that Sam Gamgee was reading when he told Frodo why they were fighting for Middle Earth. “What are we fighting for?” lamented Frodo when all hope seemed lost. “Were fight because we believe there’s some good left in this world and its worth fighting for!” replied Sam valiant defiance against the wicked story Suaron was forcing down the throats of the free peoples of middle earth.
We need a new story.