Americans’ penchant for swallowing pills instead of pursuing maybe a more responsible and rigorous course of action in our race against disease bears little difference from our compulsion to pursue any number of less-than-rigorous choices in our search for happiness. I believe that many of us feel entitled to happiness, and by extension entitled to the shortest route thereto.
It’s not entirely deficiency of character that’s the cause though. This is, after all, the American century – some would go so far as to assert it’s the American millennium – a frightening notion, which carries with it certain beliefs and behaviors, none of which fit too well within the concept of humility. Historically, the big kid on the block is rarely applauded for his altruism and strength of character. They’re usually the bullies of the world who demand what they want when they want it, and woe be unto him who resists.
Ring a bell?
Anyway, as citizens of the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth, I think we sometimes feel the need to show off, to consume conspicuously, to claim fulfillment when we haven’t really earned it. Feeling bad just isn’t in the equation.
We are Americans, ergo we are FABULOUS?and more damaging, we are right.
We’ve become a nation obsessed with being entertained. I fear that before I kick the bucket, there will be a serious effort to amend our Constitution to provide to everybody the right to be entertained. “Take my privacy and my self-determination, but leave my f*’%ing satellite dish alone!”
You see it everywhere. People with headphones connected to iPods that provide some musical gravitas to our hopelessly shallow lives. And what we have accepted as entertainment can be boiled down to an endless procession of crime shows on TV that aren’t only mean-spirited and weighted in favor of the police, but bear little resemblance to the “suspense-dramas” they purport to be. They aren’t suspenseful; they’re suspenseful-ish. The solutions to the intractable problems that are the nourishment of suspense are spoon fed to us with clumsy pronouncements, winces, rolling eyes and generous portions of ham. It seems like the producers have learned that we’ll accept anything as long as the production values and special effects are of the “Titanic” variety.
Is it really necessary to be led along a bullet’s route through a shooting victim’s brain?a victim that more often than not is a nine-year-old schoolboy who’s watching his mom remove a bundt cake from the oven? The bundt cake tells us that the mom is also of sterling character?like us?and deserves nothing less than parting gifts and a dozen roses – certainly not a dead son! Bad bullet! Quelle horreur!
It’s time in this piece to write that it isn’t as bad as it seems?that it’s darkest before the dawn. We can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and return to being the Americans of yore who really embodied the shining city on the hill; the hope of the world, the ones everyone else looked to for guidance. It’s time in this piece to pin our hopes on the next generation – what’s it called? Oh, yeah, the millennial generation. They’re the ones who’ll save us by meeting power with dissent, by fine-tuning their B.S. filters and taking to the streets in protest to the war and everything else. The millennial generation.
But my friends would tell me: Before you get your hopes up too high, Sparky, ask yourselves: Is this the same millennial generation that believes the First Amendment goes too far? Is this the same millennial generation who believe that questioning authority is not only bad, but unnecessary? Yep, we’re afraid it is.