The big election is just days away and I’ll be glad when the question of who is more evil, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, can finally be laid to rest — at least until the next time the griping electorate needs to demonize yet another opponent.
Sorry if this seems cynical, but do you blame me? For we have become something worse than a Nation of Greed or a Nation of Hate.
We have become a Nation of Whiners.
Welcome to the land of griping and moaning fault-finders who can identify a hundred reasons why they’ve failed, and not one that begins with them.
I mean it really can’t be our fault that we’re fat, or unhappy, or got a divorce, or can’t hold a job, or drink or smoke too much, or do too many drugs? We’re not to blame for these weaknesses, are we?
Advertising makes us eat too much, our bosses make us drink to excess and our spouses make us cheat. What’s a poor boy to do?
(Note: To those who have pointed out that I have been fat most of my life, let me explain how that unfortunate condition came about: I eat too damn much. You know whose fault that is? Mine.)
And if you sit still and try hard enough, you can feel that vast conspiracy of right-wing wackos, left-wing crazies, racist whites, lazy blacks, communists, capitalists, religious kooks and marrying gays all coming together to pull the invisible strings that yank your lives off track.
And don’t even get me started on those border-violating Mexicans who come up here to work jobs that we’re simply too good or too lazy to accept. The nerve of them.
For if it’s not one of these many reasons for our failures, if we still can’t blame a Kennedy or a George W., then we just might be forced to sit upright in our easy-way-out chairs and at least give a passing nod to the notion that our lives are in the present condition because of what we have done with them.
Oh, relax, I was just kidding. Who needs an honest self-appraisal when we have cadres of counseling shills straight from the excuse factories ready to let us off the hook for all of our faults? Why should we embrace personal responsibility when the messes our lives have become can be laid off on a harping mother, an absent father, a mean nun, godless Democrats and soulless Republicans.
Repeat after me, “It’s not my fault.”
And if you could just indulge self-indulgence a teensy bit longer, we can surely find a support group or psychological study that backs us up.
Better yet, let’s take another ridiculous step further and make heroes out of failures. Give the big headlines to troubled pop singers, actors and athletes than to people who actually do some good. The fact that so many people know so much about Lindsay Lohan should be some sort of crime in itself.
In modern America, it has become the norm to exalt mediocrity and praise good intentions. That way, our self-esteem gets stroked far more when we consistently clear that low bar than it would if we were actually expected to show quality and results.
Clearly, we have sailed past the point of listening to Shakespeare tell us we shouldn’t blame the stars, but ourselves. And maybe the world is now too secular to remind anyone that the L-rd helps those who help themselves.
But let’s hope we’re not too far down that lost highway to ignore Hunter S. Thompson’s note about life. “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
In short, quit whining.
(Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 4, 2012)