Around the world, millions–and perhaps more likely, billions–of people are unhappy. Curiously, this appears to be no less true in the United States of America, which, for all its recent travails still remains a relative land of plenty when compared to to the standard of living “enjoyed” by many of our fellow humans. It is strange that this should be so, not simply because of America’s aforementioned affluence, but because no other culture in history has invested so much of its time, energy and resources in an as-yet fruitless quest for contentment.
There exist a great many theories to explain the first-world despair experienced by so many Americans, but the true causes are likely myriad. The effects of the nation’s increasingly frenetic rainbow-chase in search of fulfillment have been somewhat more tangible.
As a consequence of this happiness deficit, two distinct, but inextricably-linked notions have become prevalent in the American psyche. The first is that unhappy people are somehow failures. The second, in typical, blame-the-victim fashion, contends that unhappy people are themselves responsible for the tragic emptiness in their lives.
Folks, we absolutely believe this. If you–who has so goddamn much–isn’t happy, then you are a failure. And your unhappiness? It’s your fault.¹
We’ll talk more about this later.
We Know It Shouldn’t Matter, But…
We believe that if you’re telling someone a story about a dude named Leroy, and Leroy happens to be white, you need to apprise the listener of that fact early in the story. This will prevent the intracranial explosion which would otherwise occur when you say something like, “My buddy stood in line for fourteen hours to get us these playoff tickets, but you know Leroy–he’s crazy about hockey!”²
We Could Not Be More Serious About This
We believe that an inverse, but very powerful, relationship exists between how seriously someone takes himself and how seriously he should be taken.
Tardsie As A Patron Of The Arts
One day, not long ago, when my boys and I were walking into town to get ice cream cones, we passed a homeless dude who chatted me up a little before asking for some change. He was friendly, and didn’t bother regaling me with some fantastic tale of hardship or earnest promises to use the money for saintly purposes (although I love a well-crafted tale), so I told him I’d get him on the way back.
My older boys are not quite five, and I gave them a dollar each to give to the dude as we passed him a second time–they got a kick out of that–and then we walked home eating our ice cream.
I didn’t really think twice about the encounter until I ran into the same homeless guy a few days later in the course of my own rambles about town. He told me he’d managed to scrape up enough cash to get his guitar out of hock. It turns out he plays beautifully.
We believe that was money well-spent.
Another Time-Travel Paradox³
We believe that when scientists finally manage to shatter the barriers to the 4th dimension, and time travel at last becomes a reality, its use will necessarily be confined to a select, responsible few. Due to the delicate, precise nature of the time-stream, its stewardship must be tasked to only the most conscientious, upright individuals.
And really, this is kind of a shame. With all the potential for using this technology irresponsibly to achieve godlike pinnacles of power and riches beyond all the dreams of avarice–along with power’s attendant benefits, such as more tail than one individual could bang in a lifetime–it seems an almost criminal waste to award it to such joyless sticks-in-the-mud.