At the counter, a beard and beanie was talking to the tattoos behind the espresso machine.
“It’s just like, I feel the stagnation all over. I went to college and studied art, but no one there just like thinks anything. They don’t know anything. The radio stations, they don’t play anything and the artists…”
Tattoos nodded her head, her hand on her hip.
I wanted to chime in and say something like, “I’m not going to blame consumerism, but most people have too much food in their mouths to say anything interesting.”
I am working on my agility of wit, but sadly I came up with my come-back five minutes later as I walked out of the coffeeshop.
It also dawned on me that there is a cure for dissatisfaction with the state of things.
Current problems usually boil down to who did what wrong.
In the case of this authentic art student, the problem is that none of the artists he personally knows possess the two essential characteristics that an artist requires.
An artist must have something to say, so he must consume well.
An artist must say it, so he must cook well.
And here is this guy I have seen a million times walking across the street, in One World Cafe, and behind the shades watching tv, complaining that no one thinks anything.
I am not going to equate negativity with nihilism, but they go well together.
On a more practical level, negativity and laziness go well together.
Criticism, unadulterated like it was from the clone (with a soul, I admit) is a form of blindness.
He has not done enough to see that people do things.
He has not thought enough to see that people think things.
If he strove to fill the place that he believes is empty, there would be no more criticism of a lack.
It is easy to critique the church for being filled with hypocrites.
As soon as you shut off your criticism and feel grace in you, you are dancing with the law surrounded by millions of brothers and sisters.
You cannot even see the possibility of people doing things when you never have. People do things and think things. You do not.
If you have been stuck in the suburbs since age one, and you hate it and you think it is a tool of the Devil in your life, how could you possibly know that some people experience the vigour of living in a small town?
If you are stuck in the suburbs with Christians and Willow Creek and visions that crash and burn, you will think that all Christians feel the same way as you.
A problem in your square mile is a problem of the world.
Go into the world and you will forget what it is like to be of it.
You will remember Mother Theresa and see that Mother Theresa is not one of a kind. Perhaps she was not vocal enough about the Gospel to be hated. There are millions of Mother Theresas and they are so vocal about their motivations, that you have never heard of them. They are in America and Europe and they are called followers of Christ.
There are hypocrites in your square mile, but there are few hypocrites in the world. There is no option to act less than your convictions require. If you don’t feed the poor, it is not that you are unconvicted, but that you are more convicted of something worthless. Are you convicted to sit in the basement of your suburban home and play video games all day? And complain that no one thinks anything?
If you ever find yourself saying, “I just feel like, you know, these people just don’t really do anything.” immediately check your surroundings for any positive creative impact you have made in the world. Are you a stone that can make a dent in play-toah?
If you do not see bent metal or broken walls, you have not done what you think others ought to.
For the art student, he needs to shut his mouth. He doesn’t know what he is talking about. Many people are thinking, many people are doing. And they are enjoying it. And their criticism is reserved for someone who asks, not when tattoos is standing there, making you an americano.