It all starts when we are very young. It’s a process, and it has been working effectively in organized society for thousands of years. We are processed with a mixture of religion and patriotism that keeps the social fabric intact. Religion and patriotism are the ties that bind. They are meant to supersede not only family and friendships, but our very instinct to survive. The process ingrains the fundamental values that social order depends on, not the least of which – when called upon – is self-sacrifice. Heroes are honored and sainted, and they are used as paragons of behavior. Follow their lead, and you too will be worthy. Repeat after me …
Some societies reference patriotism above religion and vice versa. In most cases it’s easy to recognize what a particular society is selling the hardest – the flag or the cross? I’ll go with two newsworthy examples: Russia is currently selling patriotism [effectively] and Iraq is forever selling religion [ineffectively]. While patriotic ethnic cleansing is all the rage in Eastern Europe, sectarian violence has a grip on the Mideast. You’ll need a scorecard to keep track of the carnage, but I’m putting my money on ethnic patriotism for the next decade – unless, of course, a billion Hindus decide to start really smacking some Sunni Muslims around [while the Sunnis are busy eradicating the Shias] – then we’ll have a real ballgame in the Mideast.
But that’s not what this posting is all about. It’s simply about all the constant complaining that’s going on. It’s an emotionally devastating pandemic, and it’s crushing our spirit.
Partisanship is nothing new. But our non-stop partisan complaining and vilification have been amplified beyond reason. And while it all seems to start in Washington DC, social media has allowed it to permeate every corner of our world. Twitter is toxic.
The simple reality [or at least my version of simple reality for the purpose of this posting] is that our very mortal leaders are ostensibly, but not really, elected by flawed and often ignorant constituents in an enfeebled system. It is the best of all possible worlds, but that does not make it any less dyspeptic. Eventually, this habitual bad temper takes its toll, and we have become as fractured as the system.
Our expectations are beyond reason. Our leaders are being held to unreasonable standards, and this contrarian posturing seeps into every aspect of our lives. Nothing is good enough anymore. Everything is a conspiracy. No one is merely mistaken, they are malicious and evil. In general, marketers have us convinced that no one is happy enough, so everyone is either complaining, consuming too much, or being anesthetized against the horror of their lackluster predicament. It’s almost comical.
I was reading about how upset a whole town in Pennsylvania is about our failure to find a suitable ‘American’ solution in Iraq. Already the chorus has begun that we wasted trillions of dollars and thousands of lives for nothing. In their ‘America,’ sacrifice is only worthwhile when we are victorious [or at least sanctimoniously right]. Well, it just doesn’t always work out that way. It’s time we accept that America’s world dominance is not only a patriotic illusion, but an unhealthy prospect for the world [and us].
I’m neither Democrat nor Republican, liberal nor conservative. From my perspective, Bush and Obama are part of a glitched system that produces the same outcome. We naively overstate their significance. They are just ambitious men with often debilitating flaws, not the least of which is hubris. They screw up – we all do. This is unavoidable. But they do not drive the system, the system drives them. At times, it makes heroes of them [like my personal favorite, Winston Churchill], while most of the time they are merely grist for the mill [like poor Jimmy Carter].
In government, policy is fluid because it has to be. We live in a dynamic world, nothing is static. By the end of the week, Iran might be our new ally. And don’t forget that Stalin got us through WWII. Today’s friend is tomorrow’s mortal enemy, and the clock is ticking on China. So, try to keep up and shut up.
As for your tiresome and sophomoric political opinion, you most likely don’t know the difference between a Sunni and Shia Muslim, and you sure as hell couldn’t find Turkmenistan without Google Maps, so quiet down. You probably don’t know the fundamental difference between communism and socialism, and I doubt you have any idea what is going on in Africa, so let it be. Domestically, you are possibly oblivious to the fact that at 40% we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world [even Sweden is only at 22%]. So kindly stay away from economics and domestic policy. Do you remember when interest rates were over 10%? Maybe you do, but do you remember how our economy was doing when they were that high? Clueless, I bet. So, stop promoting and repeating ignorant populist views. And for those of you that do know the difference, do something constructive with that knowledge.
My advice is to turn it way down. I just can’t listen to one more ignorant complaint. Your constant whining is unbearable, and your pill popping solutions are pathetic. Whatever it is that you are pissed about, keep it to yourself. And, by the way, if you really hate the uber-rich so much, stop fawning over them and maybe they will go away [or at least stop being so annoying with their vanity and conspicuous consumption].
But, most of all, stop complaining about your own abysmal personal predicament. We all understand someone is sick and dying, while someone else is broke or depressed, but that’s life. Unhappiness is part of life. Failure is part of life. And, yes, death is inevitable. But joy is also part of life. Why not skip your misery and bring a little joy into the world? You only get one life – do you really want to spend it complaining?
The gift of life comes wrapped in free will. Use it wisely or lose it.
From my perspective, our seeming inability to get things done comes down to the fear of making and standing by tough choices. Planning for the future and positioning for growth and resilience doesn’t just happen.
The progression of technology has not helped us, as you point out. The ability to get so many things so quickly with so little effort has tainted our aggregate views and expectations. Some things simply take time, and some of those things are fraught with uncertainty. That does not make them unworthy of pursuit. Some of our biggest accomplishments (and failures) have been such and have yielded unquestionable benefit.
John McCain, when he first started with his campaign, stood in front of Detroit auto workers and said, “Your jobs are gone and they are never coming back.” That took balls and I was sad to see his shrink as his campaign progressed. Unfortunately, I have not seen much more of that aside from the issue of the day (be it guns, abortion, religion, etc).
So how do you fix it? And how do you fix things on a broad enough scale that it will actually matter?
The cynical side of me says that unless some major upheaval comes around, you cannot fix it. Fixing it requires taking the long view, and we are notoriously unable to contemplate that of late.
I guess you would have to really think it was broken rather than endemic before you actually started considering the possibility [or need] of a fix. To me it is all neither fact nor fiction, but mere folly. Life is, however, quite the adventure, and while I am undeniably navigating in a haze, there is always light.
By the way, you’re are not as cynical as you think [especially if you are actually considering the possibility of a fix]. On the contrary, I have always thought of you as a pain in ass optimist. And I always enjoy your comments.