The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Control Issues

We seek equilibrium. In our minds somewhere, we have this ideal of what balance is, and we are always seeking to bring our lives into that space. We tend, generally, to dislike events that upend our existence, that break the flow of our lives. We like our habits, except for the bad ones of course. We like our routine, except when it feels routine. We don't like things to be shaken up, unless we're the ones doing the shaking. That, I suppose, is a matter of control.

There's an irony inherent in that.

There's a gross generalization made of my generation about our approach to life. It's not inaccurate, but is perhaps believed about those for whom it isn't true. It's probably true for me.

It's most typically stated to the effect that we're 'irresponsible,' or some such mature word like that. I think what is meant is that we don't like to reap what we sow. We like to live and act without consequences.

So, in essence, we want to be in control of our lives, but we also want to control the outcomes we're faced with. The problem is: we want to have our cake and eat it too. In other words, we want to act however we feel like, but we don't want the natural consequences of unacceptable, but enjoyable, actions. We can control the outcomes, but that means restraining from certain actions, and such self-control is foreign to my generation.

So, here we are, wanting control, without consequences. But I would go further than that. Our longing for control is a longing for responsibility and of ownership in our own lives. For many reasons, many of my generation feel that they have no control of their lives, no ownership in the products of their lives. This feeling is very disorienting and leaves us feeling very rudderless, and helpless.

I saw a poignant expression of this recently in the movie 'In Good Company.' I really liked the set up of that movie. But, if you watched the deleted scenes, you saw a scene in which Dennis Quaid, the elder, in a heated give-and-take with Topher Grace, the younger, says 'TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR LIFE!!!' Grace, stops, paralyzed by the blunt weight of that comment. Quaid continues about his packing, while Grace has a self-realizing moment, 'You're right,' Grace says, 'I do need to take responsibility for my life.' A sudden change is visibly effected in him immediately. Then the scene changes.

I think that clip, and the movie, depicts, accurately, many of my generation. We long to have someone require something of us, to give us responsibility and with it control. We want to have a stake in something that matters. We want to reign in our decadent lives that we feel helpless to steer. Perhaps we need someone to give us the permission to do so, and we need to be empowered with the hope that we can live lives we are responsible to build, direct, and change. Unfortunately, so many feel no control over their lives and simply don't have the tools or knowledge to do anything about it.