Friday, June 18, 2004

My Generation's Search for Meaning

We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives...and we are very, very pissed off.

- Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club

A great line from a clever movie, and one that really hit home when I watched it in 1999 (one of these days I'll read the book). This line still resonates, but I wonder if it would make it into a movie post 9-11-01.

Those of us in our 30s grew up in relative affluence and peace. Other than an occasional economic hiccup or a bomb being lobbed at Libya, those of my generation grew up not having to worry about the world at large. It was the "end of history" and we went out into the world to make a buck and figure out the meaning of life. In the movie, the angst-ridden protagonist was unable to find any meaning other than being a consumer, and he couldn't accept it:
You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.
In today's world, five years later, I think our protagonist could find meaning, either as standard barer in the War on Terror, or perhaps as a member of the opposition. Either way you lean politically, 9-11 and the subsequent activity that followed it woke the country up from the inward-looking, angst-ridden search for meaning into a full-scale war against terrorism as well as ourselves.

This is why the political dialog has gotten so nasty. This is why students are getting more involved politically. This is why the number of blogs is exploding. It's our new meaning. It's our Great War.

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