Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Convenient Culture

This past Monday was a holiday here in America. Officially, it was Memorial Day(Observed), as the traditional date for Memorial Day is May 30th, although I can't find a reason for that date. I might not be looking hard enough, although some accounts indicate it's a date that is not a battle anniversary, thus including all those who died in battle, instead of focusing on one day in particular.

Of course, we don't always observe Memorial Day on the 30th. In fact, we use the last Monday in May as Memorial Day. Why? In truth, I can't find a good reason for that. I know what happens, though. We take an important time for our nation and reduce it to a travel holiday, an extended weekend. A chance to get away, travel home on Monday, and have a shortened work week.

It's a part of our general American culture of convenience. Which is something that, I think, is kiling us slowly as a society. Everything we want, we want adjusted for our best interests. We want every road smooth, every store open 24-hours, every business to take our debit cards, and our cell phones to work every where we go, every time we grab them.

I'm not excluding myself here. I have a Blackberry, so I can always get my email, I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, have email, and, generally, use my debit card everywhere. I'd rather shop online than in a store, and fully intend to do as much of my graduate education from the convenience of my computer and office as I can.

But, we need to consider what we're losing with our culture of convenience. How many of us flew American flags Monday? Did you observe the tradition of flying them at half-staff until noon to honor the dead? Or was that too much trouble? Did you remember, if you did, to raise the flag to full, then lower it to half? Or was that inconvenient?

Were you aggravated that the bank was closed or the mail didn't run? Are you, like me, irritated that there was no garbage pickup, and so we have to wait until Thursday for the trash to go away from my house?

Does our addiction to convenience cause us to miss the point of days like Memorial Day? I don't think shifting it back to May 30, wherever in the week that falls, will help. Honestly. After all, we've lost the meaning of Christmas, and it's always December 25, so the days don't matter.

What matters is, are we willing to be a little put out to remember what matters? Are we willing to realize that our choices may require us to give up some convenience? We live in a free country, but to keep it free, there are some challenges to be had. Some of those are the sacrifice of lives, like those given by men and women since Lexington and Concord. Some of sacrifices are much easier, and hardly worthy of the word. Can you be inconvenienced enough to file your taxes, rather than having tax collectors come to your house? How about inconvenienced enough to sit on a jury, rather than having judges rule the land?

How about inconvenienced to have to prepare for your own retirement? Pay for your own education? Educate your own children? Yet many of us pass these things on to the government, so we don't have to do them. And what do we get? We trade freedom that was paid for in blood for convenience. We enslave ourselves economically, we put our government into overgrow mode just to pay for all of the programs we demand.

I think it's time to ask ourselves these questions. Are we demanding too much? I like good roads. Really. Especially since I drive a vehicle with over 175,000 miles on it, if the road's too rough, I can't get there. But how many 4-lane or more highways do we need? And do we need every road in America paved? There comes a point at which, perhaps, you as an individual need to decide, do I want to live on a paved road or an unpaved road? Want pavement? There's enough places to live with it. Otherwise, why keep taxing people to pave everything?

Same thing with businesses and services. We deliberately live where we can get high-speed internet and stable cell service. Part of the cost is that we live in town. If we wanted to live out of town, we'd have to accept possibly losing some of that. It's a choice. We choose to homeschool and choose to live on one income, both choices reduce our family's ability to do certain things, and, to be honest, can be really inconvenient sometimes. But these are the choices we make, and we are prepared to pay a price for them, whether in money or other things.

We as Americans are losing touch with reality, maybe already have, because reality is too inconvenient. We want our next musical hero, and right now! We don't want them to hone their skills, travel and play small crowds, get to know America from a second-hand bus, but rather for them to hit national TV and win it in 4 months. We want overnight sensations, we want instant success.

But it's costing us everything we have. For the conveniences our government gives us, we spend the first 4 to 5 months of the year working just to pay our taxes. Right now, businesses are afraid to expand with any profits they have because the government might decide to go back and raise their taxes to cover it. Banks are facing increased FDIC fees to cover failing banks, so a successful bank now has to pay for not collapsing. And you wonder why your savings account gets no interest?

Want to lose weight? Don't worry with adjusting your habits, take a pill. Or order food that someone else preps, plans, and delivers to you! Can't get your kid to behave? Give them a pill. Too sad? Too happy? Pills. Unsuccessful in love? Try a new body spray or perfume...never mind that the fact you're a self-absorbed, shallow person is really the problem, and maybe you need a little maturity.

Take the time to stop, and think about the cost of our conveniences. Especially to our own attitudes. Are we becoming to self-centered?

If the time came where our whole nation had to sacrifice, like 1776 or 1941, could we do it? Could we live with ration cards and plant victory gardens? If our lives and freedom were threatened? (aside: "Climate Change" is not threatening our lives, and only the reactions to it threaten our freedom. And when Al Gore goes to living a completely renewable lifestyle, when Greenpeace ditches their ships that burn fossil fuels, and all the rest of those people that claim to care actually live their lives based on it, I'll start to consider it. Otherwise, quit jetting around to your Earth Day nonsense.)

Will you stop, and allow some inconvenience in your life? Stop, and remember the sacrifices that guard your freedom?

Be inconvenienced to take the time to teach your children something. Anything. Don't pass it all off, be the one to teach your child a skill, a lesson, even if you have to learn it yourself.

Be inconvenienced to take the time and actually write a card, mail a note.

Be inconvenienced to spend time with someone who can profit you nothing.

Be inconvenienced to go ahead and read a whole book.

All of our lives cannot be lived sheerly for our own pleasures. It just can't work that way much longer. We, as Americans, have overcome wars, disasters, economic collapses. And we have finally found an enemy we might just lose to. Ourselves.


1 comment:

  1. Wow, Doug.

    I think I need to read that a few times and let it soak in. (Feeling guilty about my frustration at the slowness of the drive-through, yesterday, among other things!)

    And I did not know about keeping the flag at half-staff until noon - so I've been informed as well as convicted today.

    Keep the faith,



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