I grew up in San Francisco and for as long as I could remember, I was the quintessential millennial hippie SJW (before that was a term), the poster child for cultural Marxism.
I was captivated by the revolutionary spirit of Latin American rebels and Vietnam-era anti-war activists. I was of course, completely unaware of, or at least, unconcerned with, the lack of consistency between idealizing armed insurgents while at the same time professing to be a pacifist.
It’s probably easy for us to say that I was simply stupid. But I still remember the passion that drove me, and I feel a great deal of empathy for the impassioned millennial and youth activists who we are hearing from today, as infuriating as some of their ideas may be.
I was driven by a youthful passion for seeing peace and justice happen in a world I could clearly perceive to be dark and full of suffering. As I grew up, my heart ached for the cause of the downtrodden, the people I was told by the adults around me and the media I consumed were victims.
These victims were people of color, women (particularly housewives, oh how I pitied them!) and those in the broader LGBT community.
My worldview was largely driven by two emotions–compassion and guilt. 1. Compassion for these downtrodden masses and 2. The guilt that I lived an incredibly blessed life, comfortable, educated, and white, and that said downtrodden masses couldn’t live like me.
I thought, of course, that it was the fault of wealthy white men that these people were oppressed.
The white people who were not wealthy seemed to be to be just backwards, homophobic, racist, ignorant Southern Republicans who only believed they way they did because they did not have the immense privilege of growing up in a place like San Francisco, of course.
It was a disgusting, elitist mentality, I realize now. I was racist and bigoted in so many ways; I believed people of color could only advance in life if I, in my superior whiteness, would accept my moral duty to help them, that women who married and dedicated their lives to their families were horribly oppressed, and that white people who believe differently than I did were just dumb hicks.
I believed in the material redistribution of wealth consciously, but I took cultural Marxism for granted subconsciously. It was only when I walked away after leaving the Bay Area that the beast that is cultural Marxist ideology reared its ugly head.
I always believed my friends and family members were open-minded, tolerant, loving, and accepting of all people groups, colors, and religions…
Until I told them I’d been born again as a follower of Jesus Christ.
That’s when I realized that everything I’d believed in before had nothing to do with equality, love, or tolerance.
Slowly, it began to dawn on me that my previous belief system had been based entirely on dismantling the predominance of Judeo-Christian values and American exceptionalism…but that the superiority of Judeo-Christian values and the reality of American exceptionalism were undeniable, and what’s more, it was from those values that my belief in equality and liberty were derived.
Then it hit me: nothing I believed in could be implemented without forcing it upon the people…the people that I thought deserved to be empowered. It also came at the cost of seriously negative views of white people and those who lived “traditional” lifestyles. One of my most humbling moments was realizing that women stayed at home because the loved their families and because providing children with clean, functional homes and healthy meals was a full-time job, not a means of oppression.
Slowly, I realized that, for example, the Second Amendment was the ultimate tool to empower people. That the principles of free speech, equality, liberty, and the dismantling of systems like aristocratic rule were decidedly American, and that when our nation was founded, it was the first nation to recognize that the government didn’t grant us rights…God did.
And everything I’d believed in before was based on the principle that rights could only be granted by an all-powerful government and that people should be forced to give up their wealth and deny their personal held beliefs for the sake of benefitting someone else.
The LGBT and feminist movements aren’t about freedom, they’re about forcing other people to affirm things they simply don’t believe in. The ideology being pushed in our country today has no room for freedom of religion. The people I spent my whole life around growing up had no tolerance for me when I “came out” as Christian, unless I compromised the teachings of the Bible and agreed that homosexuality wasn’t a sin, gender was a social construct, and women were exactly the same as men.
I had no problem with their beliefs remaining the same when mine changed, and expected civil dialogue about important issues like I’d always enjoyed with my friends. I was stunned that I was not met with the same tolerance I’d tried to extend to them.
I see in the youth movements of our era the same spirit I had when I was younger to see the downtrodden rescued from the bonds of oppression. But the answer is not, nor will it ever be, in forcing someone else to validate your lifestyle or to give up their hard-earned wealth to benefit someone else.
At the end of the day, movements like socialism and cultural Marxism seek material ends to a spiritual problem: we live in a fallen world, and there is simply no way for every single person to live the exact same life. We will all struggle, whether we’re rich, poor, privileged, or oppressed. No political movement or amount of wealth can prevent pain, suffering, grief, sin, or death.
I am so excited to see the #WalkAway movement gaining traction after walking away myself so many years ago. I know that those who seek true liberty and equality will find it as they move away from the American left.
But most of all, I hope that people start walking away from the secularism that will never satisfy. Wealth, privilege, equality, and even worldly liberty will never satisfy the way Jesus will. It was through Him that I began to see the deception behind cultural Marxism and socialism, and it is through Him that I place all my hope and trust that the world He loves can find eternal liberty in Him.
Isa Ryan is originally from San Francisco and now lives with her family in the Ozarks. She is a freelance writer and homeschool mom who blogs over at End Times Mama. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.