Sunday, December 2, 2018


America has become desensitized to its existential advantage. It’s not that you can’t find agony in the USA, but we’ve collectively lost sight of what a relative haven this is, as we bitch about the long red light while waiting for it in a Hummer with heated seats. Heaven forbid that Amazon order of unicorn stretch pants arrives a day late, and there’ll be hell to pay when the delivery driver forgets extra garlic sauce.

Imagine dropping a dying Ethiopian skeleton in Wegmans: he’d die of shock before starvation, taking in the neon-bright pyramids of polished, organic produce and aisles of self-care products too long to see the end of. An avalanche of abundance―yet we whine about going to the supermarket on our day off and sigh in impatience waiting to roll our overflowing treasure cart through the checkout, back to that Hummer with the heated seats.   

I’m the worst. I get pissy the moment I pull into the strip mall, resenting every taken space with mumbled epithets, nerve-wracked over who’s going to dart out in front of me with car or cart. Then it’s total lizard-brain mode inside the store, the other shoppers becoming detested adversarial obstacles with lower deli-counter numbers than mine. I recall the guinea-pig owner ahead in line. She remembered the woodchips but forgot the carrots and would have to go back for them. So I waited. Then we all waited. Then I fantasized about hammering a carrot between her eyes like a railroad spike. (I’m fine now.)

Many will fall apart once our society does, ill-equipped to suffer third-world-style hardship. It's an outrage to find an empty shelf where the two-for-one eggnog should be, so imagine the tantrum when the whole shopping center is a crater. Before that happens, take a moment―this one―to breathe, look around, look within, and marvel over something you've got that someone else somewhere else might not. Does not. If enough of us hold onto that thought for long enough, we could grow the will to hold onto this paradise in progress.

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  1. I feel awful, often. As someone who has lived and often travels outside of the USA, I get caught up in this every time I return. But it’s not my fault I was born here, my ancestors determined that. What I can determine is what I will do with the advantages I was blessed with. And if I limited that to our holiday calendar, I’d be ashamed, May we all remember those among us who are struggling, right now I have two FHS families on my club’s radar.

  2. Thanks for checking out and reacting to the piece. There's certainly no shame in being born in the USA--I feel quite lucky to be here--but it's easy to become jaded to our advantages and get "caught up," as you said, in a momentum of complaints. Glad you've got your eye on the community... : - | >