What makes you go hmmm? Check out Julie at Using My Words for more takes on this topic. Or better yet, use your words and join us!
When you look at American society today, it’s a little hard to wrap your head around it. There is so much about our society right now that is worrisome that it was hard to pick one issue that I thought deserved special attention. But after some serious thoughts I decided that the Cult of Instant Gratification is the biggest threat to our society.
As a whole, we have come to expect everything NOW. It’s all “on demand”, “thirty minutes or it’s free”, “buy now, pay later”. I can fall into this trap as well. But we need to be more careful, because this way of thinking is highly destructive, and not just in the obvious areas.
Let’s start with the obvious first: Consumer spending. It is now the cultural norm to get something now, and worry about paying for it later. Now I’m not saying all debt is bad. Constructive debt, like mortgages, student loans, and car payments (within reason) are good. Even responsible short term financing for a large purchase isn’t something to get worried about. But what about those “convenience checks” that come in the mail and entice you to spend it on yourself? Or putting a small purchase on your Home Improvement Store card with no payments for 90 days? Or, and this would never happen, what about obtaining a mortgage that you really can’t afford? What happens when those bills finally come due? Well, they usually won’t get paid off all the way, and you use the card a little more, and then a little more. And then you get into trouble. If you get enough people at the same time who are having trouble…
But it’s not like we’re getting the best of examples from our Uncle. You know, Uncle Sam? He’s been borrowing and borrowing for years. With no real plan on how to pay it back, I might add. Right now, things are looking a little scary. So, what’s our plan? Give people more money so they can spend it. That’s right, we will (probably) be given money in the hopes, nay expectation, that we will go and be irresponsible with it. By the way, where is this money coming from anyway? If there was all of this extra cash just laying around the halls of government, wouldn’t it be better to spend it on schools or our crumbling infrastructure? Ah, but those are results we have to wait for. And we have to see some results now.
The Cult can influence some less obvious areas as well. First, our children. We want our children to behave and behave NOW. But what if it takes them a little longer to settle down? Well, we have a pill for that. What about education? We need a quick fix, so instead of seeing what works, let’s find the minimum each child needs to know (and who decides *that* btw), and give them a test on that. We’ll see some results in pretty short order, I’m sure. And in college? The number of engineering and scientific degrees keeps declining. Could it be that careers in these fields don’t command the same out of the gates salaries that law and business do? Or is it because these areas are seen as being “harder” and require more work?
The Cult is influencing our health, too. Need to eat in a hurry, so let’s stop off at the drive through. Feeling in the dumps? Here’s a pill, or perhaps you’d prefer that in a patch? (Not that for some people these pills aren’t lifesavers, but how often would you suspect they are overprescribed?) No time for the gym? Here’s a device that in four minutes a day will give you the body you’ve always dreamed of!
The Cult has caused us all to forget about waiting, watching, and working to make something happen. It rewards instant results, no matter how they are gotten, at the expense of long term accomplishment. By continually seeking the short term solution, we are in danger of having these issues repeat themselves, usually with more dire consequences, in the future.
So, what are we to do? We need to start making the hard choices. We need to start deciding what our priorities are and make sure those get taken care of. We need leaders who are not afraid to tell the truth about how problems need to be fixed. And we need to be strong enough to hear that truth and elect them anyway.
The next time you hear the Cult knocking at your door, stop and think. Take a moment to fully understand the actions you are about to take on their behalf, and then act accordingly. If we can all do this, I think this society can still deprogram itself. We’ll just have to wait and see.