Before all else, I’d like to respond to the prompt at face value: hands down, the “topic our generation will deal with the most” is homosexuality and LGBTQ rights. It is what has been elected as the cultural question of the age, in the United States at least. I have a lot of thoughts on the issue myself, I think it’s important to talk about it, and i’m glad that we are. I especially hope that people who identify as Christians will continue to begin a healthy discourse. We have handled it horribly for a long time, one response among many inexcusable ones being the whole “if you just don’t talk about it, it’ll go away” charade. It’s often painfully obvious that there is still a long way for Christian communities to go. But for the most part, I’d much rather see people making some mistakes in the same room trying to reconcile than to see them staying comfortably worlds apart, safe in their festering assumptions.
But as for what I think is the most important, other issues come to mind as better candidates. To clarify, I mean better candidates than legalizing gay marriage, not evasive action and advocacy against homophobic violence, which is about as important as anything else I can think of. Basically I’m going to attest that any “third world issue” is more important than “first world issues.” A large number of these third world issues stem from racism, and while racism to some might sound like a simple pitfall to avoid, even black toddlers in the States will pick a white doll over a black one. In light of this, it becomes important to investigate who our white leaders are picking to assist and understand before aiding or bombing, because the results get to be as serious as life and death. At the end of the day, it’s still important in this age to investigate exactly why it was Japan and Asians that were bombed, and not Germany and white people. It is our generation that needs to look at these things to grapple with present issues: why black unarmed teens are still being shot and why nobody covers the story, and why I have seen white co-workers walk in completely blazed on pot and not get a second look for it. In this way, these third world issues of racism and even sexism become the issues of our generation in the first world, but go unacknowledged as relevant or even existent, let alone our onus. This is why I’d argue that issues of racism and sexism in any “world” is a priority. It is more important that people not die because of preventable causes than it is that gay marriage is legalized. That might piss people off, but I stand by it, as do I stand by my belief that gay marriage should be allowed. But people who compare movements of LGBTQ rights to the Black Civil Rights movement simply have not looked at history with clarity or respect. I’m not trying to pit one issue against the other. Disproportionate death by AIDS in the LGBTQ community is a tragedy, and like anyone, I hope a cure is found. but I also hope that we work towards remedying the effects and
occurrence of disproportionate murder and captivity of black skinned
human beings, which has been going on a lot longer than AIDS existed. Again though, the problem is when people start pretending like this ancient issue is covered, and in the current “Age of Obama,” the post-racial narrative is rampant and sets the stage for the marginalization of these issues.
Let’s examine some of our culture for a minute, the culture that predicates this very post as almost certainly being read from a glowing computer screen: Due to highly accelerated networking, information has completely changed in nature and shape. Capitalism and consumerism have been altered. Young people like myself are not good at imagining a world before this new order, let alone how something like commerce used to run. What most people in our generation will acknowledge is that images are everywhere, at a constant inundating rate. Given this, we might conclude that issues of race and gender are perhaps more relevant today than ever before, because never have our ideas of them been so easily malleable, the icons of these ideas so easily created and spread, nor their effects so easily covered up. By nature, race and gender are sort of airy. For example, even at the genetic level, I have no more chance of being more genetically similar to another Japanese person than I do to a Norwegian person. Despite this, race is a phenomenon that has been called into being. It is real because the effects are real, but there is no locus in object. Sex and ethnicity, of course, are very real in the sense that they’re biologically measurable, and are objective. The mechanics of how images and narratives work in the modern world have mutated, and these changes need to be addressed in addition to inherited systemic problems.
The idea that we are living in a “post-racial age” is also a major factor. This idea is widely accepted as common sense: the notion that we no longer need to deal with issues of race because it is a solved or moot issue. Race being removed from public consciousness contributes to the emphasis on gender. Therefore, any sociological energy that the public has is given to LGBTQ concerns. Race, once again is marginalized, due to the myth that racial marginalization is a checked off item on the humanitarian To-Do list of history. Some of this has to do with an institutionalized historical slant towards a version of history that sterilizes the Black Civil Rights movement, making it out to be a safe topic that never reaches the present. Some of it has to do with the fact that a man named Barack Hussein Obama is the President of the United States. Again, I want to stress that I don’t want to eclipse one cause with another. It’s precisely that motivation that I re-emphasize race which I think has certainly been eclipsed by other issues. My definition of more important reads as “more important to reassess the importance of.” The effects of racism in America are rampant, widespread, and too often fatal, and few people realize that it is even an issue anymore, whereas legalizing gay marriage is important in the public eye to the point of it being hip. It’s a lot harder to make a mass-profile picture icon about generations of unintentional but destructive microaggressions, and so it doesn’t happen. The quote about white privilege isn’t going to get several thousand shares on tumblr, like the one on gay marriage will. Understandable I suppose, but what isn’t okay is how the issue then drops off the map because it isn’t recognized in pop culture, politics, and daily interactions.
Hopefully, the church will realize that followers of Christ should be running with the vanguard in any true societal brokenness, yearning and fighting for justice and entering into the pain. I do not have the time here to elaborate on why I have become convinced that race and marginalized issues are at the forefront of cultural battles to be stationed within, but I trust readers can continue to investigate for themselves. But I must address the prompt which asks what issue is the most important for our “Christian generation.” Obviously, anyone can fight for racial justice or women’s rights or anything else, believing in God is not a requirement. Sadly, the bulk of the Western Christian population has more or less been content to leave most of these fights to people who do not identify as Christians. But I want to talk a bit about something that is a big question for many in “the church” which probably isn’t for others outside of it. I’m going to refer to this as the “weird supernatural” spiritual gifts, or “miracle work” in the Holy Spirit.
Jordan Nakamura can be found via the Twittersphere, and on the rest of the Interwebs.