What Other People Think

Dearest Rachel –

After heading downstairs from the home office (a bit on that near the end, by the way), getting ready to have breakfast and start my day, I realized that Daniel was awake, and listening to some of his usual stuff. Granted, this morning it seemed to be some sort of news report, rather than a church service. The narrator – I can never tell these days whether it’s a comedian or an actual news reader anymore – was talking about an occurrence on a college campus a few states over. Evidently, the campus had been dealing with a rape or series of rapes, and several students had been instrumental in getting the administration to beef up security because of it.

However – and this is where things get crazy – there was a backlash to the increase in security on the part of the majority (or maybe it was a vocal minority – given the volume of certain people, it’s hard to tell these days, just like it is between comedians and commentators) of students, who felt ‘unsafe’ due to the presence of said security. It got to the point that the student who spearheaded the drive for additional security felt compelled to issue a mea culpa in the campus newspaper apologizing for having done so, going so far as to call himself a monster. As the narrator put it, “he’s more afraid of the mob than a rapist,” as, apparently, is the student body at large.

***

Now, we never watched the show when it was on – we didn’t have cable, back in the day, and even if we did, we’d had enough of MTV throughout our time in college, when it was the ‘campus nightlight,’ as I put it – but when we did finally stumble across copies of the show, we rather quickly took to the character of Daria Morgendorffer.

At left, with her friend Jane

She was virtually defined by the fact that she didn’t concern herself with what anybody else thought of her (with the possible exception of her friend Jane), and as a result, would be virtually uncancellable in today’s society. So, what happened to her? Why are there apparently no such individuals on the current high school and college campuses? Isn’t her disaffected nature just a typical aspect of life as a teenager, or was it something exclusive to the generation she was a part of?

Much to my surprise – because I’ve always postulated that certain attitudes and behaviors were common to certain ages, rather than various generations – it seems to be that last answer really does come down to the era rather than one’s age. Despite Daniel liking her and her attitude as much as we did, she seems to be a distinct product of Generation X (if a somewhat younger portion of it than ourselves), and his affinity for her is a bit of an outlier among Millennials. She not only would not fit in with Generation Z – and she would be perfectly fine with that – but she simply could not exist within it. That sort of personal defiance of what she perceived to be unreasonable exercises of authority (be it from adults or peers) would have been ground out of her and Jane over the past few years. Just the fact that such a show couldn’t even be considered today (or if it was, would be horribly ‘woke,’ missing the point of the original show’s whole ethos) is proof of that.

That’s not to say that Daria would necessarily be conservative, although it’s been observed that our generation tends to be, far more so than those around us (I’ve seen data that proves it, in fact). It’s more that we have so little faith in our authority figures (be they the government, media or popular culture) that we look that way, simply because said figures tend toward liberalism (or more accurately, leftism – liberalism would have no problem with us speaking our mind, but that seems to no longer be the case in ‘polite’ society. That mask isn’t just for keeping germs out, these days), and we see them as idiots, so the logical response is to head to the right, as far away from them as possible.

***

Yesterday’s sermon on James started with the verse “Who among you is wise?” to which Jordan all but gave a knowing wink to us, and pointed out that “I bet each of you went looking around the room, thinking: he’s wise, she’s wise, he’s an idiot…” And it’s true that we do think of certain people as wise or foolish, certain ones as being worth our time and others not. We all have a reputation, a “good name” that is supposedly “more important than great riches,” to borrow from the Proverbs.

And yet, more often than not, we have no idea whether ours is good or bad. Unless we’re egregiously awful (those who are that obviously good wouldn’t think of themselves as such by their very nature), we’re generally clueless. I certainly don’t know what people think about me, and even if I did, I would have no control over their opinions. People will think what they think, and there’s no controlling it – or losing sleep over it.

Shortly after your passing, Pastor Scott would meet with me for lunch on occasion – I regret the fact that we no longer do that, to be honest – and he would express concern about my reputation. I never quite understood what he meant by that. I’ll admit that I was somewhat unfiltered when we spoke together, so maybe that’s part of it. At the same time, he encouraged me to start writing to you like this; I wonder if he thinks I may have gone a little off the rails.

Foolish people ·lose their tempers [or let nothing go unexpressed; L let all their spirit out], but wise people ·control theirs [quiet things down afterward].

Proverbs 29:11, Expanded Bible

Still, if I am to be a fool, I could do worse than to be a fool for you.

For the most part, I’d like to think that I’m not concerned about what others think of me, whether good or bad. Then again, I put this together to draw attention away from my previous letter, so maybe that’s not nearly as true as I’d like to believe.

Either way, keep an eye on me, honey, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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