I got to play high school baseball as an 8th grader. This is not as great as it sounds (although it is pretty fun…). As you can imagine there are not a large number of 8th graders that get this privilege. As you can also imagine, in high school sports, seniority is a big deal when it comes to getting the necessary but dirty, tiring, lame, etc tasks done. That means we had the responsibilities of transporting all the equipment before and after every practice, game, and bus ride; picking up trash around the field, and chasing foul balls to name a few. Now this may not be the best system, but it turns out that the best people to challenge such a system are not the fresh, cocky 8th graders. I was smart…or lucky (probably lucky) to pick up earlier than later on the intense distaste for insubordination that those seniors had. My other 8th grade teammates, however, did not and had a pretty rough (read running) time.
This is my first vivid recollection of 20ish-year-old white guy syndrome, or TYOWGS (pronounced “tie-o-wigs”). Clearly its initial onset can happen before the age of 20. It’s a serious medical condition characterized by disregard for authority, pride, and a sense of entitlement. White males ages 15-25 are most susceptible. Don’t believe me? Guys like Mark Driscoll and Don Miller have also talked of the phenomenon (although in less technical terms).
“You’ve also got foes who criticize whatever you do….I’ll give you some examples from my past week. It’s always a 20-year-old crazy white guy that’s like a rock in my shoe, and the latest is, “The Holy Spirit told me that you’re supposed to run all your sermons by me, and here’s my e-mail account. And I’m happy to do that, so feel free to allow me to serve as your theological editor.” –Mark Driscoll
“Honestly, I rarely write about theological issues because if I do I find myself in a room with white, twenty-something males whose parents are paying for their education and, like me when I was their age, think they know everything, think only in black and white, and defend their ideas as mingled with their identities. It kills the soul.” –Donald Miller
Why do I bring this up, you ask? I’ll soon be leaving the communities that I’ve come to know and love, to enter into new communities. A new job, church, and living situation, while still to be determined, is coming quickly. It’s something that’s been on my mind. I see often see the symptoms of TYOWGS in my own life, and it can be disastrous for both me and the communities I’m trying to join. No one likes that guy…
Well, being it’s the 21st century, there must be a cure, right? I think there is, and I think it lies in humility, understanding, and an identity found in Christ.
What else am I missing?
P.S. I’m not sure an attempt at a gender or race change would cure this condition, consult your doctor first on that.