Too much has been written about the shrinking world, the frenetic pace of modern life, the excessive demands on our time, the requirements to travel, the difficulties of doing so, the conflicting stress of managing both family and career, the dramatic rise in the number of failed marriages, premature heart attacks, alcohol and drug abuse, obesity, sexual dysfunction and the like.
Rush Limbaugh - a drug addict, Bill Bennett in Gamblers Anonymous, Iron Mike Ditka, a spokesman for Levitra®, the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart consorting with harlots, George W. avoiding the draft, Martha Stewart facing jail, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling avoiding jail, Darryl Strawberry in jail, Pete Rose on the best seller list, Saddam Hussein in a rat hole, Germany and France our enemies, Libya, Iran and Saudi Arabia our allies, and no one can find Ossama Bin Laden.
The majority of Americans aspire to or actually drive high powered, gas guzzling four wheel drive trucks, for which most have little or no need, occupy or aspire to occupy houses with more bedrooms and bathrooms than can ever be used, consume more food than can be digested, roll up more debt than can be managed, and squander too much of the irreplaceable time and resources they are allotted in their all too short lives.
While most people plan to take full advantage of the time available, to create opportunities to acquire knowledge, improve relationships and increase exposure beyond their normal experience, few get beyond the couch, network television and fast food. Numbers who follow NASCAR dwarf those who frequent museums, theaters, opera houses, concert halls and art galleries.
Casinos attract more people than all the fitness centers, health clubs and spas combined, and it’s doubtful that any combination of bean sprouts, tofu or organic fruits and vegetables will ever threaten the consumption of Big Macs.
Organized religion continues to defy logic and survive, because no amount of money and power can avoid or even postpone life’s inevitable end. Preachers promise immortality for the righteous. No sinless soul has yet returned to confirm the existence of a happy hunting ground, and yet millions of faithful invest billions to support institutions which ask their followers to have faith.
How in the face of the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Holocaust, Verdun, Normandy, Vietnam, the Cambodian Killing Fields, Rwanda and September 11 to accept an omnipotent, all-seeing, all-knowing and loving God? Millions die of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, while starvation in impoverished countries kills like numbers of children. President Bush didn’t consult with his father before pre-emptively invading Iraq, only his “Father in heaven.” It’s hard to conceptualize a God who shares Dick Cheney’s obsession with Iraq.
We are asked to believe that the poster children for steroids – Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi – are as pure as the driven snow. That Kobe Bryant is a loyal husband and father whose extramarital dalliance is a one-time tragic, but consensual, error with an unstable woman. That retaining the provisions of the Patriot Act which trample on long-held Constitutional rights to privacy and counsel are essential to protecting the U.S. from terrorists – as is detaining, imprisoning and interrogating people without charges or benefit of legal aid.
Neither thousands of gun related deaths nor the fifth year anniversary of the Columbine massacre do anything to contain the gun lobby and the NRA’s unbridled enthusiasm for concealed weapons, gun shows and assault rifles.
Only in America can the President of the U.S. commit massive funding for an undeclared war without Congressional approval, and a black teenager go to jail for stealing a bicycle. It’s honorable for Bush to be a malingerer during his stateside Air National Guard service if he admits it, but dishonorable for John Kerry to accept a Purple Heart for shrapnel received in combat for its lack of severity. 1984 came and went without the Orwellian vision of doublespeak and thought police, but can it be too far behind?