Tuesday, February 01, 2005



The young Dutchman was struggling to find a term to describe why he didn’t think Michael Jackson could get a fair trial. He told the BBC interviewer that he had just returned from 2 years in America, and that Americans were, er, a, um, well...crazy. The reporter pressed him to explain what he meant. As he struggled to explain, it suddenly dawned on me what he was trying to say. Americans sweat the small stuff.

It’s true! Americans are terrible at the seeing the big picture. We fret over the little, relatively insignificant items, while the important stuff totally escapes our view. It effects all aspects of our lives. And while religious conservatives are probably the most guilty of this, almost none of us are immune.

Take our views of morality. We fail miserably when it comes to fighting the evils that truly threaten our culture. Poverty, racism, corruption, misogyny, these are evils, moral failures, that truly threaten our culture. Yet, we ignore these, instead spending tremendous amounts of energy worrying about who our coworkers are sleeping with, or if the guy down the street is a secret flagpole sitter. After all, he has a “friend” who comes by on friday night with a handful of videos and a 12 pack.

It is our preoccupation with minutia that warps our view of ourselves and the world. It is the reason that Bill Clinton’s blow job is still a big deal, while the most corrupt administration in the history of the country gets a free pass. It is this inability to see the big picture that makes the Tycos, Enrons, and Worldcoms of the country possible.

It is our inability see the big picture that skews our foreign policy, that make it difficult for us to relate to different cultures. We see the small failures of a culture, and we focus on them, rather than get a real overview of what a country is about. It makes it easy to be dismissive of cultures and to assume our superiority

Perhaps if we can resist the temptation to dither over the insignificant, we will be able to finally focus on the truly significant. We might amaze ourselves and solve the problems that truly threaten culture. Maybe even make this a bit better place to live. So please, save your energy. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF.

To once again quote the great sage George Carlin:

I don't believe there's any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can't completely ignore.

Take Bush touting his new Personal Accounts for Social Security. They showed a clip on the daily show where he said African-American males have a lower life expectancy rate than other groups - so they should have a personal account to be able to take advantage of their social security [because they'll DIE before they get to use it now]. Let's not address the REASONS black men have lower life expectancy... just give them their money.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
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