“I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls . . . Over these is elevated an immense, tutelary power, which takes sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate. It would resemble the paternal power if, like that power, it had as its object to prepare men for manhood, but it seeks, to the contrary to keep them irrevocably fixed in childhood.” – Alexis de Toqueville
If you cannot see this prophesy fulfilled in America today, then it’s likely this statement is speaking about you. As a nation, we are producing successive generations of Peter Pans. The heroes of most kids today are highly-paid court jesters or bards who care only for their bank accounts and how many followers they have on Twitter.
The schools of our children have lowered the bar of scholastic achievement to the point where they are graduating students who cannot read the words on the diplomas in their hands. The marketplace is full to the brim with marketing executives whose sole motivation is to convince every American that they are the center of a universe of one and that ultimate fulfillment can be found by purchasing the product they have to sell. Is it any wonder then that our young men and women “revolve on themselves without repose”?
Americans are spending more and more time online, ostensibly more connected than ever, yet drifting further and further apart from each other and their actual communities in the physical world. In 2010, an average American spent 4 hours and 24 minutes watching television while online 2 hours and 35 minutes. Each day.
Debauchery in every shape and size is available for consumption and the average American conscience seems to be atrophied past the point of usefulness. These “small and vulgar pleasures” are having a large and vulgar impact on our society. After analyzing 400 million web searches, a team of researchers determined that 1 out of every 8 searches were for erotic content. In a survey done in 2010, more than half of boys and a third of girls said that they had been exposed to pornography before they were 13 years old. And the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that 56% of divorce cases involve at least one party having an “obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”
But pornography is the low-hanging fruit, if you will. I remember a college professor of mine, very liberal professor, being asked if he supported the legalization of marijuana. Since he lived part of each year in Holland, we figured his response would be a resounding “Yes!” He surprised all of us by responding in the negative. His reason was simple, “One thing this country does not need is more unmotivated and apathetic young people.” And yet that seems to be the only thing which Big University is consistently producing in this country.
Time is heaped upon vain and vulgar pursuits while Hospice is knocking at America’s door. The demographic that should be the most concerned, since they have the most to lose by being saddled with decades of debt and abrogated civil rights, are the most anaesthetized. We are amusing ourselves to death, as Mr. Postman warned.
And yet, the tender arms of a benevolent and omniscient government wait to soothe our worries and guarantee our future. An “immense, tutelary power” oversees our entertainment and is actively involved in our fate. Have you noticed that the only area where our benevolent government does not seek to regulate ad infinitum is entertainment? There, the fewer rules and restrictions, the better. Indecency laws? Violation of the 1st Amendment. Violent lyrics and video games? Parents’ discretion. Exposure of children to graphic sexual behavior at various Gay Pride events around the country each year? Necessary in order to produce tolerant citizens.