The Brits, its been said, are 50 years ahead of us.  In this case, I think a more accurate number is 19 years.

To understand the millennial emphasis on individuality, there is no better film to watch than Dead Poet’s Society.  The film, which is incredibly destructive, made carpe diem the motto of our particularly angsty-generation.

No scene better encapsulates the pernicious emphasis on individuality for its own sake than the one below:

Find your own walk…or exercise your right not to walk.  Doesn’t matter much.  What matters is not conforming. And how you walk takes on a broader meaning than arriving between two places.  Notice how the military, with its exacting requirements for conformity, is implicated?

But non-conformity has its own price to pay, as the Brits well understood:

Here walking finds its meaning within the bureaucratic state.  As the states reach increases, what is ultimately an individual expression becomes the domain of science, codification, and international affairs.

I suspect–though can not prove–that the individualistic emphasis on the former leads to the bureaucratic force of the former.

But in both cases, walking is a type political expression.  It is not simply a mode of transportation, but a mode of being in the world that signifies who, and how, we are.

Postscript:  Okay, so I offer this in a spirit of mild jesting.  I don’t know how seriously to take this, honestly.  But I thought of the two clips, realized they belonged together, and couldn’t resist….which makes me wonder:

How would you analyze the meaning of walking in both clips?

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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