Friday, May 15, 2015

A Manifesto For Cultured Individuals

I love music.  I'm pretty sure if you read this blog much you've noticed I quote or reference a lot of musicians in these posts, ranging from Audrey Assad to Taylor Swift to Kid Cudi.  If I can sing to it, dance to it, or get inspired by it, the genre doesn't matter.  My taste is all over the place and I'm constantly looking for new tunes.  And often it happens that I'll be listening to a ridiculously catchy song for the first time (*cough* it'sgoingdownforreal *cough*) and have its melody stuck in my head refusing to budge until I look it up.  So I do.  And let's just say that upon further lyrical investigation I am personally ready to strangle Flo Rida, T.I., and Pitbull.  (jk that would not be the cultured ladylike thing to do.  But if there are any assassins for hire reading this, contact me in the comments or something.) Yes, something as initially delightful as music sometimes fills me with despair for the condition of the human race and its disregard for its own members.  So then I go whine on my blog about how I'm surrounded by uncultured swine, naturally.  And then have a guilty "Party Rock Anthem" dance party in my bedroom.

See, it's easy to complain, but ultimately I do not believe the culture is evil.  It's broken.  And I'm part of the problem, as was revealed to me in a profound Pinterest moment when I discovered this:

I have a problem with the culture.  I am part of the culture.  I am part of the problem. I think sometimes we get so caught up in blaming this group construct of "the society" or "the media" that can't threaten us back, because it can't threaten us back. Pick any issue you have with the world and I can pretty much guarantee it was caused by people, not by some ghostly blob as mysterious and unreachable as the Illuminati. But for some reason we like to ignore the space where we can actually effect change, that is, the personal level.  We also forget that by rejecting society completely, we are abandoning our chance to make a part of it good, and thus to contribute to the overall good.

If we recognize the truth we are then caught in an interesting situation.  We can't accept the culture as it is just because we think we're too insignificant to make a difference.  That's ultimately enabling the problem. (Farewell to half my playlist, as it goes down for real.) However, we also can't just reject the whole thing and cry in a secluded corner as we watch mankind go down for real.  (Sorry.  I'll stop now.) We have to stay involved in and informed about the world around us and make our little voices heard.  That's part of why this blog exists.

"But that's not enough,"  you say.  I agree.  Man does not live by opinionated Facebook comments alone.  And you boycotting Pitbull will unfortunately not silence the scourge of his lyrics.  You're not going to be able to build your own Utopia.  For most people, even just making simple moves to eliminate these harmful voices is difficult.  It takes what I like to call sacrifice.  And the definition of sacrifice is to give up something for the sake of something greater.  In other words, to change the world we need something positive to stand for, not just something negative to oppose.  Some of the wisest advice I ever received was to "fight vice with the opposite virtue." 

I have a friend who is an awesome example of this concept.  He's a fighter against human objectification and pornography because he knows these things sabotage authentic love and intimacy.  But the really cool thing is that he's also an amazing photographer.  He doesn't just rant about the wrong images his culture throws at him.  He contributes the right ones, ones that are truly beautiful. 

Guys, we don't have to conquer the culture, we have to reshape it.  We have to give people something compelling enough to replace the lies.  And it's ok to use tools that are attractive and familiar to do it.  That's why I think rap can be a form of evangelization.  That's why the Pope is on Twitter.   We can keep the broken pieces of our culture and fuse them into something good, a community of life.  So learn the lingo, try the tech, and meet the mob.  You don't have to lament the world you're in, because you are a part of it and you have within you the talents and ideas that will transform it.  Your love will manifest to our culture what it's missing.

You got this.  I believe in you. 

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