Ever since we climbed down from the trees, the human race has struggled to stop struggling so much.
Lately, instead of struggling 80% of our time working just to keep eating and staying safe, at long long last we’ve reached the point where we can spend more of our our time reaching out for whatever pleasures and diversions we can find. And take it from me, brother, when I say — compared to back when, there are so many many more of these in our time than our grousing species likes to admit.
It was a giant shift that all started about 75 years ago. Oh, you weren’t there? Well, let me tell you about it. Right after winning WWII we went on a binge. New cars, appliances and conveniences by the bazillion. Gratification not Greatness became our main mission. And why not, hell we had just earned it!
Trouble is even in its victories, the human race tends to screw up by going to excess. As the renowned historian Arnold Toynbee put it: “Civilizations die from suicide, not murder.”
Like the empires of Egypt, Persia and Rome, ironically our post WWII excess has been too-much-of-the-good-things. Without the old lean-mean struggle to survive, we’ve become the latest sated state bloated with a few too many luxuries. Like the championship team growing soft in the off-season.
One serious look, and what at first looks like ‘the good life’ can be seen for the suicide Toynbee warns of. Most everything today is being built, sold, advertised and used for what it can do to pleasure us 24/7. Publications that indulge us in stories about how we can stay fit and beautiful and lovable…paparazzi that mesmerize us with pagan fables of the rich-and-famous…wall-to-wall music, diversion and distraction on our wherever-we-go tablets…ever more spectacular movies, cars, clothes and make-overs…emptier churches but fuller entertainment resorts…plus those exotic food shows letting us intoxicate our senses with endless cycles of juicy-rich food closeups being devoured.
Maybe without quite realizing it, we’ve become the next pagan Rome. Meanwhile the new kids on the block like China and Brazil are picking up where we left off before WWII. Thinking Greatest in contrast to our dreaming Gratification. Ironic…? Yeah, that’s what history is when you’re not paying attention.
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