I never wanted to be a rebel. I didn’t want to oppose the established order of my culture. In fact, I was raised to be a conformist.
My teachers taught me the same myths which you probably learned as a child. My country was great. Our leaders were wise. Right would prevail, because my culture stood for all that was good in the world.
Preachers and parents taught me to obey authority. They taught me to obey the rules I was given. I wasn’t taught to think for myself. I was taught to obey without question. I was trained to be a cog in a very large and well-oiled machine — one which would bring me happiness and prosperity one day.
I was happy with that picture. The world made sense to me. I had my place as a part of that culture. I would be a leader and I would one day do great things to help build the society which I had been taught to love.
But an honest man can’t close his eyes to what he’s seen. Even though it’s not convenient for me, I’ve become a rebel against a culture which binds us with hidden chains and which is leading most of us to spiritual death.
I’m a rebel against what modern culture has become, but I’m a reluctant rebel. It would be so much easier if I could go back to believing what I once believed. There would be less to struggle against if I could just be a part of that great society which I once believed I was joining.
Holidays such as Thanksgiving leave me thinking about the idealistic myths which I once believed so completely. There’s nothing wrong with Thanksgiving — either in concept or in practice — but such holidays represent what I had believed the world would be.
Days such as this still represent what I want my world to be.
I still want holidays that center around the values which I once believed my culture represented. I want them to be about family and love and good will to others.
I don’t want such days to represent consumption and angry competition and unhappiness. I don’t want them to be about hiding from unpleasant truths and even hiding from the lies on which we’ve built our lives. I don’t want them to be about squabbling relatives or hateful political arguments.
It’s impossible to live a “normal” American life and have what I want — because the culture we have built for ourselves leads inevitably to the lies and unhappiness and over-consumption which characterizes our holidays. And our entire culture.
When I first realized something was wrong in our culture, I thought we could just fix things at the edges. I thought we could reform the society by returning to what I thought the country was intended to be. But I slowly realized that even that was mistaken, because I was still relying on the dishonest old myths about what we were from the start.
I finally realized the problems were all the way at the core of what the culture is based on — and the more I studied it, the more I realized that things are getting much worse, not better.
I’ve talked with you repeatedly about rejecting Postmodern ideas and going back to the foundations of the Enlightenment. We have to go back that far to find the concepts on which a sane and moral culture can thrive in peace. You won’t find it in the dehumanization of Modernism, but you also won’t find it in the nihilistic reaction to Modernism which is Postmodernism.
Living a life which is sane and emotionally healthy by my standards has slowly become “radical” by this culture’s standards. To step back from the conformity and collectivism and nihilism demanded by this culture is now considered weird and radical.
Once you understand that — and if you want a life of meaning and love — you don’t have any choice but to become a rebel against the ugliness of what this culture has become.
I still want what I once believed my society to be. I want a culture that’s built on family and love and decency and honor. I desperately want those things — and I want to live with people who value those things as much as I do.
We can’t change this dying culture. Most people will continue to live in lies and unhappiness and nihilism. We can’t stop them.
But we can do something different. At least for ourselves.
I want to talk some more about that — about what it might look like and what it might mean — but for now, just accept that there’s an alternative.
You don’t have to live by the standards of this dying culture. You don’t have to accept screwed-up values. You don’t have to be so miserable. You don’t have to accept your children growing up to be like their peers and learning to be nihilistic consumers. If you ever see the hidden chains that bind you to all that, you won’t be able to pretend they’re not there.
The good news is that you can change all that. At least for yourself. But you have to join me. You have to become a rebel, too. You have no idea how much change we can create together.