Some Reflections on Cultural Change

In 1951, Alan Watts published The Wisdom of Insecurity, which was a message for the poor people trapped in the dull comfort of their age. He explained to them that their lives were devoid of meaning because they weren't thinking right. They needed to face insecurity, empty their minds, be open to new truths, and heed the wisdom of nature. Watts was setting the stage for the great Awakening in Consciousness which was to come in the next decade. realize that you live in, that indeed you are this moment now, and no other, that apart from this there is no past and no future, you must relax and taste to the full, whether it be pleasure or pain... The whole problem of justifying nature, of trying to make life mean something in terms of its future, disappears utterly. Obviously, it all exists for this moment. - The Wisdom of Insecurity, Alan Watts, 1951, Pantheon Books, p. 115-116

With these words, Watts was offering advice fit for a Zen student.

Fast forward to the year 1992, when Christopher Lasch wrote about the minds of schoolgirls in an analysis of the work of Carol Gilligan. He complained about their small-minded goals in life and about their language, with its incessant use of the word "like" ("I was like, 'I don't care,' you know.")

These girls lack any sense of an impersonal order that exists independently of their wishes and anxieties. Not only the substance but also the manner of their speech testify to the emptiness and unreality of a life that consists only of "relationships." The compulsive "like" conveys disbelief in the objective reality of their surroundings. - Women and the Common Life, Christopher Lasch, 1997, W.W.Norton & Company, p. 135

Lasch felt that the girls' basic problem was in the disorder of their environment.

The girls...suffer from the effects of generational segregation, the deflation of ideals, the loss of an impersonal order. - Women and the Common Life, Christopher Lasch, 1997, W.W.Norton & Company, p. 133

Lasch could have thanked Alan Watts for this state of affairs. Be careful what you ask for.

The post-60s age of cultural craziness and moral relativism was then blamed for the decline of America, and many saw the need for change. People complained about the feminization of society and wondered where the heroes had gone. They forgot about another time when a feminine age gave way to a masculine age - the Napoleonic Wars. The deceit and decadence of the foofy ancien regime was replaced by lots and lots of manly battlefield carnage. So be careful what you ask for.