Ask someone what their passion is and most people will respond with a hobby, like, or interest. “I’m passionate about writing,” they’ll tell you eagerly, or “I have a real passion for the poor”, but how many hours of struggle and frustration and exhilarating effort have they really dedicated to writing that novel or raising money for those orphans that they’re always talking about? How many nights have they been unable to sleep because they can’t stop thinking about that project, that person, that injustice that consumes their mind? How can we claim to be passionate for something when we spend all our lives doing just about everything else?
We’ve sliced the meaning of passion to ribbons and ripped all of the action out until the word is just a sliver of its former self. To our generation, passion means to find something interesting or desirable, love means to enjoy, hate means to fail to enjoy, and awesome means mildly impressive. We are a passive people, and the devaluing of our emotional vocabulary is just one symptom of the apathy in our hearts. Deep down, we don’t want to do anything. We don’t want to engage our hearts, we don’t want to engage our minds, and we don’t want to take action or responsibility for anything. We want to sit back and watch, to just take life in, and as a result we don’t know what passion is anymore.
Here’s how a friend of mine put it: “‘Passively taking it all in’ is exactly the attitude and behavior that disappoints me most about my generation – and is something I try to discourage the next generation from doing. Hatred and vitriol may be more frightening, at the first sighting, but apathy is harder to combat and correct. Some refer to the collective problem as a Me Generation, but I’m slightly more afraid of a Meh Generation. At least narcissists exhibit human emotion.”
This phrase, “Generation Meh”, has been tacked onto twenty-somethings lately, and it’s a perfect description of our greatest downfall. We can hardly bring ourselves to do more than acknowledge something’s existence and express our approval or disapproval thereof. We can’t be bothered to feel deeply about it, we can’t be bothered to think deeply about it, and we certainly can’t be bothered to do anything about it. Most of our responses amount to little more than a dismissive “meh” and a change of topic, even if our “meh”s are sometimes put a little more eloquently than others.
In the days when emotions held weight, when people cared about things, passion meant something over and above the norm, an almost unbearable emotional reaction that lead to a physical response, such a strong desire for some goal that they would overcome any obstacle to reach it. Now, when most of our emotional reactions and psychological responses are as bland as rice milk, any real mental and emotional engagement with anything is stronger than anything we’ve ever felt. So we call it passion and talk about it for a while, and our friends say “that’s cool” or “good for you” until the emotions are gone and we’re still on the couch, our most pressing goal to keep doing what we’re doing and try not to be bored. Words don’t change things, passionate people do, and until we reclaim true passion for the things that truly matter, we’ll never accomplish anything. I pray that God will fill young Christians today with His Spirit, that He will revive our comatose hearts with a hunger for action, because I don’t want us to be remembered as a generation of indifference. I want us to be remembered as the generation that made a difference.