Complacency and the Fall of America

"Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance (natura-liter maiorennes), nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me." ~Immanuel Kant

Can the spark of passion from the recent upheaval in Egypt and the Middle East spread to the United States? Are Facebook and Twitter enough to rally the masses in America? Lucky for the American elite, revolution is not likely in a country so full of apathy, complacency, and addiction. Yet something must change in America before it crumbles like so many morally vacuous empires have before. This nation is now controlled by greed, prestige, power, and false beauty (Editors, the Economist, 2011). "The top 1% now controls 25% of our wealth" (Editors, the Economist, 2011). Is the greed of the top 1% in America any different from the greed of Mubarak? The United States is teetering on the brink of social collapse, but Americans have become too complacent to notice or care.

Greed is God

"The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness." ~Friedrich Nietzsche

"Greed is an addiction. There is no logic, only the creed that "more is better." Anything they have to do to put this in place is the only considerat-ion. When you think that the so-called bonuses are nothing more than contrivanc-es to legally steal; it's no wonder this huge mess has been created. This is the benefit of deregulati-on, and what it has sponsored. Leave it to the banks, and investors to watch what's going on. it's the old "fox has the key to the hen house," adage in full swing. If it takes a moral conscience to put things right, who knows when and if it'll ever happen. Hopefully there'll be some divine interventi-on, because it's so far off the hook, it seems irretrieva-ble. What a world!"

In America, it seems the poor are convinced that the "American Dream" is available for all people, that great riches can be theirs with the purchase of a lottery ticket, and that wealth comes from the right idea or the next "get rich quick" scheme rather than hard work.

But the reality for 99% of Americans is that wealth -- even middle class wealth -- is moving further and further out of reach as government, big business, and banking join hands. Greed has become not only good but Godly, and the effects on the country as a whole are startling; in fact, "much of the country's population [is] living in conditions that are closer to the 'Third World' than to the 'American Dream' (Martin, 2008). A comprehensive report conducted on the conditions in America in 2005 (even before the onset of the current economic crisis), found that: "in terms of the human development index, the United States has fallen from second place in 1990 (behind Canada) to 12th place" (Martin, 2008). In addition, America has an infant mortality rate comparable to Cuba and Croatia, a 14% illiteracy rate, a 15% poverty rate among children (the highest of the 30 wealthiest nations), poor school performance compared to other advanced nations like Canada and Japan, ranks 42nd in overall life expectancy (considered the result of obesity and inadequate healthcare for the poor), and houses 24% of the entire world's prisoners (Martin, 2008). Moreover, that 2005 study found that: "The top one percent of households possesses at least one third of the national wealth, while the bottom 60% possess just 4% of the total" (Martin, 2008). The middle class is rapidly disappearing.

Complacency and Killers

In addition to the aforementioned statistics reflecting America's steady decline and social decay, the 2005 study found that two of the top 15 leading causes of death in the U.S. are homicide and suicide (Martin, 2008). Even worse, killers are growing younger and more devoid of conscience. One author lists just four examples of the most gruesome crimes in recent years, all committed by adolescents under the age of 18, and all within the month of June 1997:

"A New Jersey teenager, Melissa Drexler, stepped into the bathroom during the high school prom and delivered her baby by herself which she left for dead in a trash bin. She then went back to her table, ate a salad and then returned to the dance floor. After the bloody stall and dead baby were discovered, she was approached while in the process of making a song request to the disc jockey. She later pleaded guilty.

Malcolm X's 12-year-old grandson set fire to the Yonkers, New York, apartment of his distinguished grandmother, Betty Shabazz, where she was burned over 80% of her body. She lingered for days until she died. It was believed that his only intent was to create a situation where his grandmother would be so upset with him that she would let him move back with his mother, from whose home he'd been removed for neglect. He eventually pleaded guilty.

Jonathan Levin, a very popular young New York City public school teacher and son of Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin, was allegedly tortured and then shot fatally in the head by a teenage former Student who wanted Levin's ATM card and password. The former student was found guilty.

A 15-year-old daughter of a millionaire businessman and her friend sat drinking one night in Central Park in New York City. In the evening, it's a secluded, dangerous area of paths and clearings where frequently estranged youths are curiously drawn to the shadowy world of drunks and vagrants who congregate there. The girl and her friend shared some beers with an older man, then slit his throat, stabbed him fifty times, hacked off parts and tried to gut him before cleaning out his wallet and dumping him in the lake. She pleaded guilty and her accomplice was found guilty after trial." (Elikann, 1999, p. 3)

These examples reflect a growing moral numbness in America, an alienation from conscience, a culture where violence and sociopathy have become as good at selling video games, television, and movies as sex.

The Decay of the Family

Statistics on the state of family life in America are just as disturbing, reflecting generations of children growing up "deprived not just of resources, but of hope and nurture, of principles and values" (Kemp, 1995). In 1970, only one in 10 children were born into a single-parent household; today, that figure has skyrocketed to one in three (Kemp, 1995). Moreover, single-parent households have a poverty rate nearly 50% higher than two-parent homes, and 70% of juvenile offenders grew up in a home without a father figure (Kemp, 1995).

Let Them Eat Cake: Quick Fixes

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism. ~Carl Jung

So why have Americans become so complacent? Why is the nation decaying from its core and no one seems to notice? The answer may lie in addiction. Today, it seems everyone is addicted to something: food, alcohol, drugs, coffee, sex, shopping, credit cards, religion, pornography, television, exercise, supplements, chaos, sports, gambling, beauty, plastic surgery, social popularity, celebrity gossip, Prozac, social media, the Internet, gaming, work. This sense of "entitlement to addiction" is really an "entitlement to apathy." How can people get really angry about the state of affairs if they have a "Coke and a Smile" around every corner? Anyone can stroll into their doctor's office and get a prescription for the latest anti-depressant as long as they know the right "passwords," and one of the side-effects of anti-depressant medications is "numbness" (Rose, 2009). Needing a "fix" in order to get through the day is now considered normal; people who don't drink coffee or eat junk food are often ridiculed by coworkers for being "health nuts" (Boghosian Arden, 2003). Americans are not supposed to feel negative emotions, they are a sign of weakness and the hallmark of a "loser." So instead, Americans numb their true feelings and walk around with plastic smiles and plastic relationships. But this denial of negative emotion is tragic, not only because it causes the apathy that is destroying the moral fiber of society, but also because: "The emotions of pain, anger, and fear arise to tell us to pay attention. They come to us as friends, to pull our hand away from the flame. In heeding rather than repressing them, we can let them go, and also let go of our addictions" (Rose, 2009).

Another addiction plaguing America is an addiction to laziness -- to taking the "easy way out." This…