2011-01-06 / Sam Bari

Change in the New Year

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

At the end of every year, columnists and op-ed writers traditionally write something profound about the year gone by. Then they say something significant and optimistic about the near future.

Profound and lofty thoughts have yet to find their way into this column. I do not possess the skills or proclivity to engage in such efforts.

I just had a good time during the holidays. I have no idea how we survived our errant ways for an entire year.

Despite all the complaining, the holidays were fabulous. According to most reports, Santa was generous and the retailers fared better than expected. When compared to the rest of the world, Americans still enjoy a standard of living that most of the planet will never experience.

That’s why I am baffled when Americans say they are not happy. They want change. They want more money, less stress, better health care, and bigger houses. They also want to lose weight and get in shape, and they want everything now.

We are a nation that thrives on instant gratification. Pursuing that goal is a national tradition. All of the aforementioned is living proof. We have been doing the same thing every year since our forefathers founded the country.

We want the results of change, but we don’t really want to change to get different results.

I do believe that someone perceived as a great thinker described insane people as those who do the same thing repeatedly and expect different results. Well, that’s pretty much what we have here.

Every year we make resolutions with good intent. We want to lose weight, but we don’t want to give up pie. We want to get rid of our debts, but we don’t stop using credit cards.

Our lives get out of control, and we blame the government. Then we expect the current administration to make all of our troubles go away.

When they give us solutions, we don’t like it if any concessions are required on our part. “Why should the deficit be our problem?” we ask. “We didn’t cause it.”

This isn’t a problem unique to the current administration. Every administration as far back as George Washington has been faced with the same dilemma.

We are spoiled, and we have an unwarranted sense of entitlement.

Evidence is in the news. We idolize the super spoiled. That’s why articles on Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears are more widely read than news about the president.

Does it really make sense to follow the lives of known drug addicts? If it does, I don’t understand why. Yet, the public finds them fascinating. I can only guess that it is because their lifestyle represents opulence.

America is willing to forgive the wealthy for nearly any sin. The richer the sinners, the quicker we are to absolve them of their transgressions.

This year, we will continue to follow the lives of the hard partying wealthy. We will idolize those who are famous for inheriting money. We will worship burned-out narcissistic actresses, and when they fall by the wayside, we will replace them with another wealthy loser.

Country music, rock and roll, and Hollywood will come up with new one-hit bad boys. A few known artists will fall off the proverbial wagon and rehab will be page one news.

Last year, Mother Nature was active, and a few natural disasters caused major devastation. But nothing compared to the devastation caused by humans.

From the wars in the Middle East to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and genocide in Africa, mankind certainly contributed to the demise of the planet, as well as our own species.

However, we initiated a respectable amount of good as well. People around the globe contributed to assist the unfortunate in Haiti, who were victimized by a massive earthquake. The distribution of the aid still needs work, but the effort was made, and steps are being taken to make sure the assistance gets to the people who need it.

Many good people have paid the ultimate price while attempting to help the innocent civilians who have suffered in the war zones. Unfortunately, those are rarely front-page stories, and certainly do not get the readership that is enjoyed by the publicity hungry glitterati.

Until we are willing to change the way we live, the idea of change will continue to remain a mystery while we live in a system we can’t understand.

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