Noticed the other day that the Rolling Stones are revving up for their fourth decade of summer concert touring, a remarkable accomplishment for guys who have never put diet, exercise, or clean living at the top of their priority list. That Keith Richards’ heart continues to beat is a miracle comparable to the parting of the Red Sea. While some Stones aficionados might argue, the quintessential Jagger lyrical pronouncement concerns satisfaction, and the fact that he “can’t get no”.
Ironic, as there would appear to be few senior citizens who have gotten more out of life than the Stones, who continue to reap huge rewards and recognition for their musical talent and frenetic style. While English, the Stones, like the Beatles, made their fortune in the United States, which is the undisputed world’s leader in providing satisfaction. Absent the odd terrorist attack and the occasional appearance of the conservative right, there is no place on earth with greater opportunities to derive genuine pleasure.
From a macro perspective our beaches, mountains, resorts, hotels, restaurants, casinos, theaters, sports venues, national parks and museums are unrivaled. Our country is large and yet sparsely populated with all of us living on less than 5% of the land. We are ethnically diverse and enjoy the highest standard of living. Despite 9/11 we are the freest society on earth with democratic institutions which work well and a reverence for the law. Our transportation systems are the best in the world. There is nothing more valuable in the world than an American passport. Our colleges and universities attract the best and the brightest students. While our urban centers define our style, we produce 50% of the world’s food and are the free world’s target market. Our military might is unchallenged and yet no nation goes to the extremes to protect individual freedoms, even for the likes of O.J., Manson, Gacy and McVeigh.
Satisfaction is the cornerstone of our real “family values,” and while there are clearly some that still “can’t get no” they are in the minority. Civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, the rights of the handicapped – the freedom to speak your mind on virtually any subject no matter how unpopular – a totally unmuzzled press. While organized religion and the radical right continue to urge abstinence in the here and now for the sake of eternal salvation in the next life, most Americans are uninhibited, rarely sacrificing today’s opportunity to let it all hang out.
We are no longer sexually repressed. Movies, television, the Internet leave nothing to the imagination. Sex education is available, as it should be, to young people in school and birth control is economical and readily available. Victoria is no longer secret, and for most satisfaction is a more legitimate reason for intimacy than procreation.
There is little in life more satisfying than watching your child get his or her first hit, seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, holding your first grandchild, successfully docking your boat.
The American dream is a complex combination of satisfying responsibilities, possibilities, pursuits, and passions. Yankees are ingenious, aggressive, competitive, confident, affectionate, and, above all, completion oriented. Going fishing can be a satisfying experience, not in the same league, however, with actually catching a fish. The hunt, whether for big game or beautiful women, a lot of fun, pales in comparison to the kill or capture.
It can be argued that we have too much choice in comparison to most other nations, and are driven to excess because we take for granted good health, clean air, water, first class housing, education for our kids and considerable travel and recreation. For most people these are unachievable dreams. There are enough public courts and courses that anyone can play. Satisfaction for most is not just playing but playing well and winning.
We tend to overeat, with obesity now the number one cause of premature death. We lead the world in the number of people participating in rehab and the number convicted of drunk driving. We have more cars, boats, computers, telephones, televisions and pairs of shoes per capita.
Virtually every important entertainer from every era will join the Stones this summer touring the U.S. trying to stimulate our already over stimulated nerve endings. Some might conclude that what we as people do best is get satisfaction. Mick Jagger has to compete with Disneyland, Spiderman, Wonder Woman and Tiger Woods.
There are 28,000 McDonalds dispensing instant satisfaction as we frantically motor around our incredible country. There are bars on every street in every town. We support at least three times as much retail square footage per capita than any other country. We lead the world in eating, drinking, traveling and fornicating. How is it then that nearly forty years after making the song, we will throng to hear with reverence and understanding Mick’s lament at getting no satisfaction?