Monday, March 29, 2010

Watching the Rat Race From the Sidelines

This post, though extensively edited, was originally posted in December of 2008. I ran across while review some browsing stats, and I have to say, I couldn't agree more.

Abby, over at Bad Dogs and Such wonder why everyone isn't lining up to become Americans. That is adopt the American way of life.

As someone trying desperately to opt out of the rat race, I don't find it strange at all.

First, consider what the rest of the world sees of American culture. Meltdown of the Stars - Lindsay,
Brittany, etc. - could be a regular TV show. (And there is a cable show called "Celebrity Rehab" which is - or was, I am again without television! - exactly that.) Drugs. Sex. Rock and roll. While it makes a cool statement for stoners, isn't really a good foundation for a culture.

Since I love obscure movie quotes, how about this.
What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane?
How many of our children are medicated with psychoactive drugs? Either self-medicated with illegal drugs to escape the world that we've made, or medicated with legal drugs because they can't fit into to world that we've made? (And you get extra points if you can identify the source of the quote.)

How many people go home from that 50 hours at the job they hate to eat frozen dinners alone, scanning the 157 channels of cable looking for something worth watching? And drinking themselves into oblivion once a week or more? Or miss everything to do with their kids upbringing, because it is politically necessary to be in the office late - at least most nights.

Why is everyone looking for that bigger house (pre-implosion of course), better car, cooler iPod, etc? Why is it they aren't happy with what they have? Maybe because they aren't happy and haven't figured out that you can't buy happiness at the mall. (And how many have a really cool media center and absolutely no money for retirement?)

There is a lot to recommend American culture. It has raised a lot of people out of poverty and ignorance, here and around the world. But there is a lot wrong with American culture, and those things are not insignificant. They also tend to be screamed around the world by the media.

Do you really need a new iPad? Does spending all that time playing World of Warcraft (or whatever) make you a better person? Do you know more about the characters on "24" than you do about the people who live in the same block or apartment building as you do? Do you think that makes sense?

If it wasn't for the family obligations I have right now. I would be on my boat, at anchor, in some small Caribbean bay, fishing, reading, eating, drinking with friends (there are always other boaters) and in general not "living in Iowa." (That was the plan in 2008 anyway.)

My boat is suffering from the nearly 2 years I spent taking care of my dad, who is 92-years-old, has cancer, and won't last much longer. (I cried "uncle" and turned things over to my sister for awhile.) Lot's of maintenance to catch up on, and I might opt for the "acres in the country" escape instead or in tandem. Who can say? I need to get my health back on firm ground. (I have 2 years of being trapped in a house, watching too much TV, cooking - and eating - too much comfort food, like meatloaf, and a general lack of exercise to overcome.)

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