A Culture That Can’t Listen To An Opposing View

Last night Aleta and I enjoyed a great dinner with our two sons. Aleta, shared with our boys that she’d been reading this book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – And Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. The book observes that today’s teens aren’t comfortable even hearing arguments they don’t agree with. In other words, they not only want to be physically safe, they also want to be emotionally safe – as in so “safe” that they don’t even have to hear ideas or arguments they don’t happen to hold. So Aleta asked our sons, “Is that what you actually see on your high school campus?” Both of them said, “Oh yeah! Most people don’t even want to hear another point of view and when they do, they are quick to label the other persons viewpoint as ‘hateful,’ ‘ignorant,’ or whatever.” Very interesting. So where is America headed when our kids can’t even listen to an opposing point of view, and in their pursuit of being emotionally “safe” they hive themselves off into ghettos of sameness where everyone they know thinks, dresses, votes and looks the same? How ironic that a country with a 1st Amendment that provides for free speech, we’ve created a generation that can’t handle even listening to opposing ideas where they can unearth and/or affirm the most winsome idea.

So I took a look at Aleta’s book, and stumbled I on this little section she’d underlined. See what you think:

A recurring theme in many campus incidents is the appeal to a higher authority to fix the situation rather than students’ doing something about it themselves. That was the case at Yale [referencing a certain event that took place on that campus], where the students were offended by the very idea that they work out the issues for themselves. The question is: Why are such issues now considered the purview of the administration instead of the students? The obvious answer is iGen’ers’ long childhood: they want college administrators to be like their parents, seen by children as all powerful. But there may be other cultural shifts at work as well. In their article “Microaggressions and Changing Moral Cultures,” the sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning argued that the United States has shifted from a culture of honor, in which people respond to a perceived slight themselves, to a culture of victimization, in which people avoid direct confrontation and instead appeal to third parties and/or public shaming to address conflict.

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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