Optimism about the future changes both our attitudes and our behavior. Those who see bright tomorrows ahead are typically more energetic, more willing to take risks, and more convinced that their own actions can produce positive results. Optimists are thinkers and builders, and we all benefit from their dreams and activities.
Pessimists are dull, dreary, and dismissive of the possibility of change for the better, so it should be obvious which type of citizen most benefits a nation and its people.
It is, therefore, concerning that 39% of the Americans recently surveyed by the Pew Research Center believe that “end times” are dead ahead. The exact definition of what constitutes “end times” for the respondents likely varied from the overtly Biblical to the merely hopeless, but the size of the cohort who see only Armageddon in our immediate future is worrisome.
Apocalyptic thinking is not new, and humanity has had ample reason in the past—whether because of war, disease, or famine—to presume the end was nigh.
However, given the relative safety and comfort enjoyed by Americans today compared to the despair of the medieval Black Death or the horrors of past genocides around the globe, one has to wonder whether we are today being victimized by the many fear mongers who have created lucrative careers for themselves in government, journalism, and academia based solely upon their insistent predictions of our country’s imminent demise.
Although the panic and fear gripping so many Americans is often grounded in some semblance of reality, we must always remember we are fed a steady diet of doom and gloom—for reasons both fair and foul.
America’s media echo chamber continually amplifies every unfounded suggestion that we are all going to soon die in misery, and this has certainly produced a lot of exceedingly depressed adolescents and young adults who are insanely obsessed with every possible sign of our collective doom, their cell phones clutched in their shaking hands and their surgical masks plastered to their frightened faces.
Moreover, fifty long years of unending military debacles running from Vietnam to Afghanistan have certainly weighed on our collective psyche and confidence in America’s future. Over the same time period the steady erosion of our nation’s middle class, which has harmed both our national pride and destroyed many communities as well-paying jobs either disappeared or were simply shipped overseas, has crushed the pie-eyed faith in the future that distinguished Americans in the decades immediately following our last real military victory in World War Two.
It is also difficult to ignore the roles of corruption and scandal in reducing our belief in the future. Our current dearth of positive role models and reliable leadership is astounding, and we should be far more worried than we are about the crooks and crazies who now dominate our national discourse and influence young Americans busily following—and emulating—these idiots on social media and in their personal lives. A nation where so many now aspire to be either Samuel Bankman-Fried or Cardi B desperately needs to re-evaluate both its priorities and purpose.
Therefore, we must acknowledge the possibility that many Americans are less worried about America’s future than they are about their own. Many of us are weary of the heavy hand of governmental institutions that are, truth be told, rather repellent. The huge bite that taxes take out of our livelihoods, the many onerous government regulations that crush individual initiative and discourage business development, the incredible wastefulness and inefficiency of so much government spending, and the contempt that so many in government seem to feel for the average American are all combining to grind down our spirits and sap our hope.
The grim reality of most of our lives, no matter what we try to do to create good futures for ourselves and our families, is that we exist at the sufferance of our overreaching and overbearing government, and much of our current leadership finds our refusal to be docilely herded by our supposed betters, our annoying belief in the founding principles of America, and our desire for freedoms of expression and belief to be utterly insufferable.
Government and its handmaidens in academia and the media have long been intent on making us weak and afraid so that we are more controllable and compliant. We are whiplashed by one new “emergency” after another—climate change, Covid-19, or institutional racism—so that we don’t have the energy to battle the grifters and grafters who use our taxes as a honey pot of money to fund their futures at the expense of our own.
Over the past fifty years our democracy has been slowly and cynically transformed into a cash machine for the well-connected—one that is now rapidly running off the rails. Soon enough the game will be over for this sad—and entirely avoidable—fiscal ruin of our country. Americans are smart enough to read the writing on the wall, and most are already preparing for the day when the fiscal time bomb of debt explodes. Given the political, cultural, and social craziness now infecting our country, we can expect a lot of finger pointing, blame shifting, and excuse making in lieu of the leadership we will so desperately need in very short order.
The best we can hope for is that the finale of this insane experiment with the big, bigger, and biggest government in American history wipes the board clean so that a new generation of smart, sensible, and non-ideological citizens can refocus on the basics of good governance—and leave the expensive totalitarian ideals of the nanny state behind.
The abrupt onset of adulthood will not be as much fun as adolescent fantasies for those Americans who have grown used to lots of free stuff and no responsibilities whatsoever, but one can only hope the onrushing end times will be the starting point for a nation where government becomes a servant of the people rather than our oppressor.