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Don't Confuse Being Entertained with Being Happy

“Life expectancy in the United States declined again in 2017 (for the third year in a row), the government said Thursday in a bleak series of reports that showed a nation still in the grip of escalating drug and suicide crises. The data continued the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century, an appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918. That four-year period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States and perhaps 50 million worldwide.” – The Washington Post

Apparently, the only thing as dangerous as fighting a savage German war machine while trying to dodge one of the most lethal pandemics in history is amusing ourselves to death in the most prosperous society ever created. There are Roman emperors who would have cried themselves to sleep in envy if they could have seen the food, pornography, music, air conditioning, and video games that the average American enjoys that they would never be able to partake in. Oh, and those emperors were at the top of the food chain. The vast majority of people throughout human history have been miserably poor, eking out brutally difficult lives under the harshest of circumstances, which certainly doesn’t describe most Americans, although we seem to think it does. Never in all of human history has less been demanded of people in order for them to survive in comfort. We don’t have to go back several hundred years, either, to when most of us would have been illiterate, unarmed farmers living in shacks while we tried to coax enough food out of our small farms to survive, all the while fearing that a horde of violent men might swarm over the hill to burn our houses, rape our daughters, and steal everything we owned.

The same woman whose grandmother couldn’t drink from a white water fountain and who had dogs sicced on her by police for marching for civil rights is having a hysterical fit in public because someone left a noose in a tree on campus. The same guy whose great-grandfather was trading rifle shots in a hellish jungle with Japanese soldiers is scared to own a gun because he doesn’t trust himself to handle it without shooting himself in the foot. A woman whose great-grandmother stayed in a bad marriage — for the sake of the children and to avoid the shame of divorce — where she was slapped around is leaving her husband because he spends too much time at the office trying to pay off the overly large house he bought at her urging. Point being, most of the “huge problems" we obsess over today would have been laughed off a few generations ago if they’d even been noticed at all.