No, this is not a rant about fast food. It’s about how American culture has “degraded” some what in recent years. We have a culture where we want instant gratification, in 30 seconds or less. We emphasize flash and pomp over substance and patience. It’s not just about our desire for fast food, microwavable products, home delivered pizzas or Chinese, or even about our obsessions with pop stars. This “I want it now” attitude is so pervasive, that it has altered how we approach all our problems.
Call it the “magic bullet” attitude. All anyone wants is a simple, easy to swallow solution that will magically cure all our ills. Doesn’t matter what the problem is. Over weight? Why exercise or eat right when all you should have to do is take a single pill and *poof!* all those nasty pounds will just go away. Don’t want to cook, or don’t have the time? There are a billion options, from burger joints to pizza places to Chinese take away, or even the frozen food section at the local supermarket. Convienience rules the day, never mind the long term, that’s just so in the future.
And that’s just it, it’s all about the now, with no mind to the consequences down the road. This attitude has seeped into all aspects of American life. We don’t think beyond the imediacy of the moment. We reach an situation or “conclusion” that we like or want, one that is with in a very short time frame, and stop. Take fast food. We get the instant satisfaction, but don’t concern ourselves about the long term potential consequencs. Take sports. We are so hung up on sports stars and their stats, that often they feel compelled to seek “short cuts” like steroids to achieve the desires. I’m sure Lyle Alzado would like to have a do over on that regard.
But again, it’s more than that. It has become part and parcel of our politics and policy debate. Look at the antiwar movement. The troops out now attitude is all well and wondeful. So, let’s say we pull out. Then what? What happens to the people of Iraq? What happens to their neighbors? What will tha do to the stability and security of the region as a whole? To some, that is of no matter, it’s “over there,” “out of sight, out of mind.” They only want the immediate satisfaction of pulling our troops out, damn the consequences.
The Immigration debate is the same way, and on both sides. Neither side is looking much beyond 2008 and the White House run. There is little to no concern about what the impact of any shift in policy would be. Those who advocate a free walk for illegals fail to see that this will only encourage a back lash, not only against them and any illegals that get “outed,” but against those who are here legally, and don’t deserve to be penalized for following the rules. They end up only encouraging attitudes that will serve to ruin the fabric of the nation. Those who demand an overly harsh stance on the illegals also fail to see beyond the immediacy of the situation. As I said in a previous post, deporting some 12million plus illegals is a nonstarter, it isn’t going to happen. The impact, not only on the courts and enforcement agencies, but on how the USA is percieved around the world.
People here in the States have a bad attitude. If they can’t have it now, they don’t want it. And if we can get someone else to do it for us, all the better. As I referenced above, it’s like going to McDonald’s. You pull up, place your order, and in less than 5 minutes, you’re on your way. No real planning involved. No concern for what the potentialities of the action could cause. It’s one reason why so many people get addicted to drugs.
And this attitude has become institutionalized. Look at the fight former players are having with the NFL, or what older baseball players had to fight for (and still do). Look at how we handle Social Security (which has always been behind from day 1), or how we approach any sort of welfare program. It’s slap dash band aid type fixes that a certain Dutch boy would be ashamed of.
We need a fundamental change in how we approach things. This patch and move on just isn’t working, and never will. What we need to do is start looking at things in more than a six month block. For those that haven’t heard, Americans usually only think in a six month block, three months ahead, three months behind. This severely limits our perceptions, and ability to plan strategically. And it’s why those who can are labeled either visionaries or scoundrels.
If we start thinking in truly long term parameters, we can radically change our approaches to nearly everything. We need to think in more historical terms, in blocks of 10 to 20 years. That alone will provide a better basis for policy planning, and even practical applications. Once we achieve this, we alter the basic debate structure on nearly all things, from public policy to personal planning. It will also change how we percieve our icons. We will stop being so obsessed with people like Paris Hilton, and concentrate on those who have staying power, and a lasting impact.
OK, I’ll stop dreaming now, as this will not change…*sigh*