Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hear Me Out: Blueberries Are Not In Season. Deal With It.

A new article in Rolling Stone Magazine Rolling Stone. The $9B Witness tells you something you already know: banks lie. In fairness, it's not just banks. Banks lie about how much they can do for you, grocers lie about the quality of the food they sell you, politicians lie about the services they can afford to offer you. There's a good bit of lying going on.

You already know that.

Why? Why so many lies?

Because when you go to the grocery store you do not want to see a big sign that says

"Blueberries Are Not in Season. Please Enjoy a Kumquat!"

No grocer in his right mind would put up a sign like that. You came to get blueberries, so neither he nor anyone else wants to tell you you can't have them right now. The truth remains largely irrelevant in the exchange. Blueberries are not, in fact, in season. They'll be in season again in late July and you probably know that. But knowing the truth has become conveniently ignorable in light of the public's penchant for offering a lie and and the equally healthy hunger for consuming the lie. If blueberries are out on display, we're happy to take them, not caring one whit what chemicals and witchery got us off-season fruit.

"Yay! Blueberries, right now when I want them!"

The same has been true of the banker who should not offer you the loan or the politician who knows even as he campaigns on a message of truth and transparency that when he is elected to office he will be forced to lie or disappoint. They choose the lies and we choose to accept. They keep their jobs, we get to clap for phony progress, and our problems persist. Why? Because the banker thinks you won't remember to come back to him when you've saved enough to afford the house and the politician doesn't trust you to vote for him if he tells you you can't have what you want right now. They assume, rightly, that we only want what we want to hear, future be damned.

So the results are in: we're slow-witted morons with a disastrous affection for the now.

But let's not blame ourselves individually.We have cultivated a national impatience which is crippling us, suffocating our chances, killing us, and the remedy we've agreed upon by our inaction to correct it is to actively ignore it. That, after a few choice words on social media, of course, wherein we turn on one another and expend our steam with a cousin or neighbor rather than the true culprit. We don't have the patience to find the procedural solution that would actually get at the problem and solve it. We do vigorously comment on Facebook, though, with all the commitment of a Kleenex. Insert angry-smiley face here, tinted red to show how really mad we are! For 2.3 seconds until the next blinking headline dispatches us like nervous cats from leap to scatter.

And it's only getting worse.

Attention deficit is no longer a disorder. It's a way of life. Only 36% of eligible voters went to the polls in my home town, despite weeks of open voting for anyone who could get two blocks from home, the availability of absentee voting, and the twelve-hour voting window on election day. I'm quite certain more than 36% of us have an interest in how we are taxed or how badly our streets are paved, but we can't focus long enough to tie the thread between public service and public servant to know that our vote matters immensely.

Even in the mundane we are disturbed. We can't sit at a stoplight for the few seconds it'll take to move again without glancing at a smartphone or turning to a new radio station. We cannot endure the thirty minutes of boredom in the waiting room at the Jiffy Lube without watching news, listening to bad piped-in music, and flipping through a dated magazine all at once! How much time do we spend staring at a neon-bright video game, swiping, swiping, swiping? Just to be doing something because we can never be doing nothing. It used to be that fidgeting was the domain of the toddler. It's now the institutionalized norm among the suited and stately.

But what does that get us? Read the article linked above. We reap what we sow, one of many lessons we could learn from the farmer (not to be confused with the chemicalized farmer brought to us by the good folks at Monsanto) whose truth is patience and long-term sacrifice for future reward. Our national laze and indifference is poisonous to our country and constitutes a near-treasonous public acceptance of corruption, and as we continue to devour lie after lie for a short-term high we doom our children to the inevitable consequence.

We must, must, must - and can - do better.

So I am working to develop the patience necessary to both say and receive 'no' with grace and a view to the long-term. (I've also thought about this a lot and, slightly on, but slightly off, topic I think we all need to decide we'd rather not have cable than put up with Comcast's truly terrible customer service. Another rant for another day.)

I am challenged to say 'no' to myself and my children to see what comes of it. I am bent on setting a long-term goal with my family to see if we can all help one another earn and spend the patience necessary to achieve it. I am desperate to change the trajectory because I believe each bit of the progress we can and should make on the national level must begin with the individual effort of every patriot.

I encourage you to do the same. Buck up. Be patient. And have a kumquat, it's good for you.

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