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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

THE COCOONING OF AMERICA

BY MICHAEL LINN JONES

In a recent post at THE GUN TOTING LIBERAL, Buffalo Brown put forth some thoughts in this piece, ALMOST A RANT. Mr. Brown laments the type of thinking that results in an employer deciding employees' lifestyles off the job.
When employees lose their right to have a personal life away from work, the Age of Feudalism returns. When you combine Feudalism with the Nannyism of the government, we become a nation of slaves.

As in all of his writings, I find Buffalo Brown's thinking provocative. As a blogger that's what he's supposed to do; make one think about something a little more deeply instead of just passing by and assuming that lump in your life is normal and should not be disturbed.

This morning I was listening to a radio interview of Eric Burns, in which he came forth with the opinion that in post-Revolutionary America, the Founding Fathers were just as anxious to achieve fame as anyone. But...and it's a very big but....the definition of "fame" was radically different. Burns said that "fame" meant that someone had done something that made the nation better. Even if the technology had existed, a Paris Hilton wouldn't have been famous. Personally speaking, I STILL don't see why that individual is famous even considering the times we live in.

I got to thinking about those "times we live in." And truthfully I am not that secure in the opinion that we are better than generations that preceded us. Something has happened over time...we all know that change is one constant...but still, there is something amiss.

We accept too much. We accept things because we have handed over the reins of individual life to entities that in the end cannot tolerate the individual. It is quite an un-American approach to life, but then the question arises as to what "American" really means.

Priorities change; standards change, and people change. Using rough figures, the U.S. lost 400,000 in World War II, 35,000 in Korea, 60,000 in Vietnam, and now approaching 4,000 in Iraq/Afghanistan. At a glance the 400,000 lost in World War II seems an easier number to accept than 4,000 lost in Iraq/Afghanistan because the larger number died during a struggle for something easisly definable.

But I think it goes beyond that, however. As a nation; as a people we have become less tolerant of combat deaths. In fact we have become less tolerant of sacrifice in general. Any serious notion of relating 299 million Americans to the other 1 million involved in the military would be greeted with derision. For example, why not impose upon ourselves a 50 m.p.h. speed limit nationwide (it was 35 m.p.h. in World War II)? Or slap a large tax on people AND corporations to pay for this war?

Because that is...ridiculous. The war belongs to...someone else. Those involved in the fighting and dying belong to a very small minority. Our children are too precious to sacrifice for anything. It's almost like.."let me get my kid accepted at Duke and I'll put a yellow ribbon magnet on my car, ok?"

Cynical, but accurate enough. For while other things are going on in the world, the populace has wrapped itself in a grandiose cocoon. Said cocoons are wrapped in a brightly colored insulation of indifference.

In the 19th century Karl Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses. We have come a long way from that notion; the commonality of purpose has been cast aside for individual interests.

We have a government official telling us that Americans are going to have to redefine personal privacy; that we must trust the government and corporations to safeguard that information. But to claim that personal information is just that? No. But that generates a very small discussion....a much greater wind blows about Paris Hilton saving drunk elephants or Britney Spears running red lights with her kids in the car.

We demand what has always been referred to as "personal freedom" but actually mean personal indulgence. If an employer decrees that his/her employees shall live, think, breathe, worship, marry, etc. in the manner prescribed by said employer, then we have, as Mr. Brown says, a resurgence of feudalism.

Many years ago I read a marvelous autobiography by David Niven entitled "The Moon's A Balloon." To borrow from that, a cocoon is a balloon, too. And like a balloon it can burst.

And maybe, when it does, we all might start talking to each other again, like a modern family during a power outage. If we're lucky some person, movement, or thing will pull the plug on what we haughtily consider a reality.

In the meantime, enjoy the fruits of submission. While in our cocoons we have no idea that those sweet grapes we're being fed are actually the droppings from the south end of a horse.
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Cross-posted at Michael Linn Jones.com
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This post kindly featured at MemeOrandum

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Tom said...

I'm not sure as a nation we're less likely to accept sacrifice. Looking at military service is just one way of measuring sacrifice; to really look at the nation as a whole you'd have to take a more detailed view.

I look at many of my fellow students, having given up careers to return to school. Many other Americans are doing the same. Some, admittedly, for purely economic reasons, but many others for more noble ones. Which makes me question whether Americans are unwilling to sacrifice.

6:07 AM  

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