One hears young people utter that phrase in reference to things that really ought to matter. Such as products of the human spirit, religion, culture, intellect – everything that makes us different from animals.
It’s not a function of their youth either. One can confidently predict that this abominable situation isn’t going to change as they mature. On the contrary, once they get mired in children, mortgages, retirement plans, insurance policies, adulteries, divorces, medical problems and so on, things are going to get worse, not better.
This observation has been prompted by a conversation with a good friend who was complaining about his nephew, a young doctor. That chap has married a Lebanese girl, his colleague.
She is a pious Muslim, which is why they first had to have a religious wedding in Lebanon. For that to take place, however, the young man had to convert, which he readily agreed to do.
He travelled to Lebanon, chanted the phrases he was supposed to chant, became a Muslim and went back to Europe to get married the proper, which is to say secular, way (his family and he don’t believe in all that God nonsense). When my friend queried him on his conversion, the young man laughed and uttered the phrase in the title above.
My friend’s immediate reaction was to point out to his nephew that there may be some practical ramifications. At some point he may be told to comply with Sharia law and, should he refuse, he’d become an apostate from Islam. That status isn’t always conducive to a long and healthy life, even in Europe.
But that’s a relatively minor matter. He and his wife are Western doctors, after all, and, barring the stuff of macabre dystopic fantasies, it’s unlikely they’ll ever fall under the jurisdiction of an Islamic court. The real problem isn’t the young man’s betrayal of Islam, but his betrayal of everything that constitutes Western culture.
According to my friend, the youngster knows next to nothing about the humanities, things like art, history, religion, philosophy. Such things simply don’t matter.
To his credit, the young doctor doesn’t pretend to be more knowledgeable than he is. He would if he saw the point, but he doesn’t. He’d earn no kudos for cultural pretensions because everyone he knows is just like him (except, obviously, my friend, but he lives far away).
The only judgement the youngster ever puts forth is that any judgement is, well, ‘judgemental’. And that’s the worst thing to be, next to racism and global warming denial. Such things apart, one’s mind is supposed to be open at all times to everything, with no critical judgement activated to filter concepts, tenets and ideas.
Yet it’s precisely by its judgement that a civilisation is defined, by its view of man and the role he plays in life’s drama. Cauterising one’s critical judgement can lead to the critical race theory being accepted as the be all and end all of consciousness – and conscience.
Observation suggests my friend’s nephew is no different from most of his coevals. This is supported by the evidence of those who deal with young people professionally.
As far back as 1987 Allan Bloom, professor at Chicago University, published his seminal book The Closing of the American Mind, in which he described this pandemic of deracination in detail. Bloom pointed out a paradox: the more open the mind, the tighter it’s closed in reality.
In the past, writes Bloom, professors of humanities defined their mission as disabusing students of their prejudices. These days, however, they have no prejudices whatsoever. They start out as tabulae rasae, but nothing worthy can be written on those slates. They remain pristine for life.
Yet prejudices are intuitive, a priori assumptions that anchor the mind, preparing it for a lifelong voyage. If that anchor doesn’t exist, the mind is cast adrift, whirling around aimlessly. Before long it’ll run aground.
Every Sunday a handful of Western holdouts recite the sacramental words “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty…”, which young firebrands used to hate. Now they no longer dignify those fossils with such strong emotions. They just smile condescendingly and get on with their purely material – which is to say mindless and soulless – existence.
Their minds are wide-open, but not to what Dostoyevsky called the “accursed questions”. People used to try to answer those, then they began to claim the questions were unanswerable. Now they don’t even know those questions exist. Such things simply don’t matter.
However, those open minds readily admit any nonsense bypassing the mind and appealing directly to gonadic response. The critical race theory, global warming, the joy of transsexualism – anything will do as long as it imposes no demand on thought. Just mouth the requisite stock phrases, prove you are ‘cool’ and watch the remaining cultural holdouts squirm. There are so few of them, they don’t matter.
Contrary to what T.S. Eliot wrote, the world will end with neither a whimper nor a bang. It’ll end with an indifferent shrug.
What we have in the world today is the natural sciences and the humanities going their separate and divergent ways. The natural sciences keep churning out technologies that can make human life easier – or extinct. Which it will be depends on man’s capacity to promote good and resist evil.
The ability to do so requires a lifelong training course for the mind, spirit and senses. The more people sign up for that course, the more likely will society be to choose good over evil and, ultimately, life over death.
Every time an educated (meaning ‘professionally trained’ these days) young man says “It doesn’t matter” in response to one of the few questions that really do matter, the death knell sounds. Metaphorically, for now.