Monday, May 10, 2021

Youthful Judgmentalism and "Woke" Culture

Christopher Columbus statue in Newport, RI

“Extraordinary creatures you young people are, altogether. The past you hate, the present you despise, and the future is a matter of indifference. How do you suppose that can lead to any good end?” 

Erich Maria Remarque, Three Comrades (1938)
Yesterday I decided to go for a drive and catch up on some podcasts I've fallen behind on. It was a fairly nice day so I ended up driving through Newport, Rhode Island. As I came I was stopped at a traffic light I noticed a statue of man immediately to my left that I had never noticed before. From the side he appeared as a man from the Renaissance period, holding a globe in his right hand and at the base of the statue I could make out the word "Pinta". Immediately I realized it was Christopher Columbus. And as soon as I realized it was Columbus, I wondered how this statue has managed to survive "cancel culture", so I looked it up online, and predictably I read how in 2020 the mayor proposed for it to be replaced by "another Italian", since it was put up by the Italian community in the 1950's.
And as I thought about all the madness around "wokeness" and "cancel culture", especially prominent among youth today who have been fed this madness by crazy activists, the above quote came to mind.
Thinking about this quote brought to my mind Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, a character many youth have been sympathetic towards for decades. His character is the definition of a young man who hates the past, despises the present and is indifferent to the future. What is it that drives Holden to view the past, present and future this way? 

The answer features prominently in The Catcher in the Rye - Judgmentalism.  
The most noticeable of Holden’s “peculiarities” is how extremely judgmental he is of almost everything and everybody. He criticizes and philosophizes about people who are boring, people who are insecure, and, above all, people who are “phony.” While Holden uses the label “phony” to imply that such people are superficial, his use of the term actually indicates that his own perceptions of other people are superficial. In almost every case, he rejects more complex judgments in favor of simple categorical ones. Even his pursuit of losing his virginity manifests his judgmentalism. He feels strongly that sex should happen between people who care deeply about and respect one another, and he is upset by the realization that sex can be casual.
Holden is revealed to be like a child who is unable to see the complexity of the adult world. He wants to hold on to what he sees as his innocence, which is really his blindness. His idealism is immature, and sees reality as a nightmare, which leads him to an insane asylum.
Pessimistic judgmentalism coupled with crazy activism has led us to today's "cancel culture". This is a secularized answer to indifference about the future, based on the hatred of the past and the despising of the present. Youth today are often encouraged to hold such a dark perspective of life thinking they are actually doing something good for the world, which is to destroy it and recreate it. But this is mainly done on social media, where the goal is to destroy lives. The intentions are sometimes good. The problem primarily lies in the method.
Even President Obama challenged youth to abandon such judgmentalism. In 2019 he said: "I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people. If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn't do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because 'Man did you see how woke I was? I called you out!' That's enough," he said. "If all you're doing is casting stones, you are probably not going to get that far."
He went on to say: "This idea of purity and you're never compromised and you're politically woke, and all that stuff -- you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws."

Christianity is against cancel culture because it discourages judgmentalism. The best thing you can do for yourself is to make yourself aware of your judgmentalism and to turn your attention on focusing on making yourself a better person and a better citizen. Otherwise, if you choose to remain judgmental, then be ready to be judged by God with the same measure of judgment you give others, and this applies to how we view the past, the present and the future as well. By focusing on making yourself a better person, and not being angry at others and at society in general, it could only lead to "a good end."