It was Saturday afternoon and my family was heading to the University of Wisconsin Badgers football game. It is a yearly tradition for us to don the Red and White and fanatically cheer with 80,000+ fans in celebration of a hopeful victory for our alma mater.
There was a season in my life when I believed that my entire identity was wrapped up in being a “Badger.” I was a face painter, I had season football, basketball, and hockey tickets. I was the first to be in line and last to leave the stadium. My moods would rise and fall based on if the Badgers won or lost.
Strangely though, if they won my joy lasted about 24 hours, but if they lost, I would be depressed for a week. Up and down, week after week, I allowed my identity and my emotions to be dictated by something I couldn’t control – a sports team.
My observations over the last 2 decades are that many people, especially the youth, are lacking a personal identity. As my children grow in age, knowledge, and curiosity, my wife and I spend more time trying to impress upon them the importance of developing a healthy identity in life and not just going along with the crowd. We often quote best-selling author Chris Brady:
“Whatever way the crowd is going, run the other way!”
How do I know people are struggling to find and express their identity? Look at the exponential appearance of body art (tattooing) in our country. It’s an individual’s way to express themselves and say, “Hey, look at who I am. I’m more than just what you see on the surface.” Look at the maddening fascination with sports, sports TV, MTV, fantasy sports leagues. People are trying to grab on to some team, or some symbol that defines who they are. Recently, we learned one of the most common admission’s to the adolescent wing in a local psychiatric hospital is sexual identity crisis. Wow, if that isn’t evidence of a lost identity for young people.
There are multiple directions I could go with this post, but I want to focus on one area in particular: the loss of our national identity.
What does it mean to be an American?
Recently I attended a lecture from best-selling author Oliver Demille at a LIFE leadership convention in Milwaukee, WI. DeMille described the battle that exists, often undetected, for our families, the sanctity of marriage, morality, free enterprise and freedom in general. It is a battle that intends to strip us of our identity.
In terms of a national identity, a healthy nation is a group of people with a shared heritage of the past and a shared vision of the future. This, in essence, is the nation’s IDENTITY.
Demille described how every healthy nation has an identity. It looks like a giant tree with two main tap roots. One taproot is a national book (higher authority) and the other is the nation’s epistemology (understanding of truth). Without them, the nation has no identity and therefore is limited in developing a healthy nation and providing a foundation for the development of healthy individual identities for its people.
DeMille referenced a question posed to Americans over the decades:
“If you were kicked off the planet, what two books would you take?”
DeMille detailed the surprising and alarming trends that developed over the last half century. In the 1950′s, the Bible and Declaration of Independence were the predominant answers. In the 1960′s, the Bible was still the nation’s foundation for truth but the country was starting to lose an identity with a national document. By the 1970′s, the answer spaces were left blank, or filled in with a question mark. And by the 1980′s, people apparently had no idea what documents help us understand our national identity or what we could reference for universal truth. The deficit was glaring as Americans would answer with the title of their favorite song. In four short decades our source for authority and understanding of truth was stripped away.
Why Do We Need a National Book and What Really is Epistemology?
A national book gives the people a higher authority that people can turn to when questioned. It provides a foundation to rely upon in times of trouble. It can also give a historical road map to help a nation and individual to live by.
Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge. Basically, epistemology helps someone determine if something is true. Below are some well known examples of how someone can come to understand truth.
- Pragmatism- If it works for me it must be true.
- Aestheticism- If it’s beautiful it must be true.
- Humanism- If most people believe it then it’s true.
- Empiricism – Scientific method has proved it to be true.
- Mathematics, Logic and many others.
The most powerful epistemology today is Credentialism: the “experts” with the most credentials determine what other “experts” say is true and right. These people are highly educated by other credentialists and have a lot of letters and titles after their names (My wife and I were the poster-children for credentialists). Doctor of flippity-flop, and director of such-and-such, PhD, MD, CDC, ABCDEFG. I beg to ask the question, “What if the credentialists aren’t right?” After all, we’ve lost our framework and foundation for what truth is and I would think that now more than ever, we need to question what the credentialists positions are, what is their message, and what sources are they using as their foundation of truth.
Credentialism is in direct conflict with another powerful epistemology known as Independent Thinking. Independent Thinking would state that an individual should listen, read and gather all the data themselves then come to their own conclusion. Independent Thinking, with the foundation of studying and learning from historical examples, is what established our republic and the prosperity of our nation for the first 150 years.
Where do get your national identity? Do you rely on someone else to tell you what it is, or do you gather the information and study it yourself to make your own conclusions?
In America people are struggling with an identity crisis as the national identity is divided into 2 camps: The Credentialists (CR) and the Independent Thinkers (IT). They are in a battle of epic proportions, yet very few see it, or even know it exists. The CR would have you believe the national truth and identity should come from Freud and Nietzsche, while the IT still believe in the Bible and the Constitution for our truth and identity.
Which nation do you belong to? Perhaps, it’s a little of both. For me, I was highly educated, but I had little awareness of the battle going on. Therefore I wandered around my world with the only identity I could grab – A University of Wisconsin, face-painting, Badger fan. My identity ran deep and my emotions rose and fell based on the weekly outcome. One season I’m a loser, the next, a winner. I was a face-painting credentialist that didn’t know how to lead my family or children. I learned a lot of book knowledge, but after college, TV took over as the teacher and gave me all the wisdom and examples of how NOT to raise a family and be a good husband. So I ran around confused, with a broken identity, like so many families and individuals in our world today.
Here’s the Good News!
The business of LIFE is here!! There is a way, a self-directed education if you will, to gain insight into this battle and most importantly what you can do about it. The LIFE business is specifically designed to walk the individual down a path of discovery in 8 specific areas in life: Faith, Family, Finances, Fun, Freedom, Following(leadership), Fitness and Friends. As the masses walk around grasping for an identity in all the weird places, there is now a map to help them find an identity and a much clearer path toward a life that they always wanted.
I spend less time at Badger games, but I do spend a lot of time with tens of thousands of friends that are filling up arenas and stadiums around North America celebrating “LIFE” victories.
I still enjoy a good Badger game, but the only thing I paint on my face is a smile for every “LIFE” victory I see. A true victory that lasts for generations. A male discovers he can be a “man” in this world and it’s cool. I love seeing a mother come home, guilt free, to be a stay-at-home mom. I love seeing someone start making tough decisions with their finances to get out of debt, or to break free from a life-long addiction. I love seeing marriages saved and extended families reunited after years of conflict. I love my new LIFE identity and I know you will too. I invite you to check out for yourself the life you’ve always wanted.
Godspeed on your journey.