I think everyone, in the course of their lives, comes to meet the type of person who, when upset, not only lets everyone know that they are upset, but takes it as an affront if someone around them is happy and has the temerity not to be bowed by the upset person’s demands. Hopefully, you have not had to live with this type of person, as it’s an absolute nightmare. It’s tyrannical. One has to be constantly aware of the tyrant’s mood and mood swings. A wayward giggle, let loose in a moment of mistakenly letting down one’s guard, can be the impetus for a blow-up by the other, even if the momentary outburst of mirth had nothing to do with the person who is upset.
Bookworm over at Bookworm Room states the following in here most recent post “The LGBTQetc people I know are open about their hatred for traditional Christians and Jews because they view those religious traditions as homophobic.” This certainly may be true, to a large extent. However, I had two other thoughts that I think may also be valid here.
First off, there is Jesus’ promise of persecution to his followers – in John 15:18 for example, where “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (NKJV). In a less religious sense, one could even propose that when one rejects what is represented by the Judeo-Christian God – Truth, Love, Order, to name a few – one must necessarily put themselves on the other side. And since people don’t want to think of themselves as “bad” people, those things that work to reveal that one is “bad” must be destroyed.
However, I think there’s something else too. I’m near to entering my fourth decade on this planet, and I really think that my generation was the beginning of the generation where “broken” childhoods became the norm. Of all my friends growing up, there were very few that didn’t have some sort of major trauma. It wasn’t just divorce, but divorce was often the beginning of it, but led to things like abandonment, neglect, and abuse. There was very little “safety net” of family, much less other social structures, be it church, social organizations, what have you. For the most part, the adults around us, when we were brave enough to say something, seemed to put their fingers in their ears and loudly repeat over and over again, “That can’t be true – your parents have to love you,” drowning out our voices. One of my teachers once asked our class – a very good class at a very good high school round about 1995 – how many of us lived at home with our married, biological parents. Out of the 28 or so of us, I think about three hands were raised. Of course, some of this can’t be helped. A couple kids did have parents who died. The vast majority of us were bearing scars of so much more.
The next door neighbor kids, for example… We kids knew to stay away from their dad, as he was a really mean guy. Eventually, the parents start having some troubles, and dad threatens mom with a gun, and were it not for mom’s brother and other family in the room, they were sure he would have killed her. The parents divorce, dad remarries and… second wife ends up murdered as they’re finalizing a divorce. Or a friend whose mother completely abandoned the family and whose father came after him with a samurai sword. Or even my own life where I lived in constant fear of one of the parental units, who eventually did snap, but faced very little in the way of repercussions; even when I dared to tell people what was going on, a common response was to assume that somehow I was being overdramatic, after all, “What kind of parent does that?” Hearing verse five of Don McLean’s song “American Pie”, when he sang “and we were all in one place/a generation lost in space/with no time left to start again”, it seemed as though he was better describing our generation than his.
Then again, that song really captures a lot of the chaos of the late 1960s, and this was the time in which our parents came of age. We were the first children of that, the children who were the victims of parents who had thrown off such “outdated” notions as duty and responsibility. Who were we, the children, to complain if all of these ridiculous choices they made hurt us the most? It’s not to say that people along the way haven’t always made bad choices, but it seems, for the first time, that we, as a society got to the point where it refuses to call out bad behavior about “small things” because of a crazy notion of “sounding judgemental” which morphed into not calling out bad behavior on “big things” because no one can draw a distinct line between the two.
As a result, from the kids born in the mid 1970s and sooner, a lot of us have grown up in miserable circumstances and with a really questionable sense of morality. I am sure we are a lot unhappier, as a group, than pretty much any generation (in the United States, at least) before us. It’s easy to make fun of us, particularly because it’s not like we went through a total war or famine or even material deprivation. But we grew up without those traditional “structures” – faith, family, civic pride, or what have you – that help give a person a sense that their life has purpose and meaning.
Yet, there are the people who still have that, and who still cling really, really tightly to these things. Religion is a HUGE part of that. Study after study has shown that, as a whole, actively religious people tend to be happier than non-religious people. It’s not that simply going to church makes one a happier person, but, in my opinion, that those that order their their lives around more permanent “structures” necessarily have a different perspective on life and generally don’t carry as much anguish, in particular in regard to whether this whole “life” thing can be explained as “Life’s a b****, and then you die.”
The thing is, for a lot of people then, because they are unhappy, almost unbearably so, those around them that are happier must be made to suffer. One very effective way to try to do this is to try to destroy that which makes the other happy, a function of envy. It’s like if one child receives a special present of a bicycle and another child is so angry that the bicycle does not belong to him, he’s got to break it beyond hope of repair to make the owner of the bicycle as upset as he is. And so, those institutions – church, family, civic pride – must be consistently attacked, “brought down”. The adherents must be made to see how “false” these things are, must be made to feel the pain of those who don’t have them to start out with… it’s revenge, but more than that, it’s white-hot rage of feral children against an unknown, uncaring, unfair, extremely cruel world. The LGBTQetc is a convenient premise, but even if it were “resolved” tomorrow, tomorrow already there would be another issue to use to try to tear down the “happier” people.
I think that what a lot of people miss here is that people who are happier generally build their own happiness. They learn to put their minds in a place where they can be satisfied with what they have, but also strive to make things a little better, not necessarily for themselves, but for their families, friends, and communities. The “structures” of family, faith, and civic service bind people together into cohesive societies, capable of weathering good times and bad. It is extremely difficult for those of us who really grew up without this to imagine, but these things are not exclusive to those “born with them”. Each one of us makes the decisions daily, the result of which becomes the threads of the tapestry of a life. I have seen friends of mine make horrible decisions and rail at “the system” for the consequences. But I have also seen people who have had really rough childhoods take a step back and really do better in their own adult lives. Without some sort of structure, though, this wouldn’t be possible, and the whole society would devolve into chaos. The good news is that there is hope for each one of us. 🙂