Would You Know How To Swim For Your Life?

You’ve heard about the first mate on the Titanic who was last seen re-arranging the deck chairs…! Pretty good image of large swatches of our population right now. The ship may be going down, but by god they’re going to go down paying attention to what counts. How they look, dress, meet for lunch, invest in the markets and get the best seats on the aisle.

I don’t know how you see things from here, but when the ship’s caught in a perfect storm and the crew can only argue among themselves about what to do, it’s not really the best time for self indulgence. Squeezing some pleasure out of life is fine; but saving that life is even finer. And yet right now you’d think millions of us on the ship had no higher priority than ourselves (see BMWs, upscale restaurants, Facebook & Twitter chatter, home shopping channels and reality shows for self indulgent details).

Maybe it’s the flight-not-fight in us like that first mate. The storm is too big and the ship too small, so maybe all we can do is what the ship orchestra did that night of terrors: Play the music until there was no more ship.

Both as individuals and as a nation we still thrill to the echoes of our frontier mythology; and surely to the roar of today’s corporate and military heroes. We even say we’d follow those same paths of glory too if only some someone would lead us. But it’s not clear that we — so caught up in our own personal problems and pursuits — would really know a hero if we saw one. Nor would really know how to make the commitment needed to follow an authentic hero.

Fast-food America to the rescue!

OK, so the waves are growing higher, but what about this for an idea. Why not bigger burgers? That’s not a joke. At least so reports my Alma Mater Northwestern University. “Studies show the reason fast-food chains are lately selling so many gargantuan burgers, fries, and sodas is that supersizing is an easy way for some people to feel powerful and important.” Professor Derek Rucker puts it this way: “Jumbo portions may be a relatively cheap way for people who feel helpless to get a momentary catharsis.”

Catharses in times of crisis? Well, it’s happened before. In fact all through history on other troubled ships of state. The passengers suddenly living faster, laughing louder and eating more even in the eye of the storm. Only….? Only could it be that in our case fast-food America is serving us bigger portions of comfort food just when we may need to stay lean and strong for the swim ahead…?

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