Thursday, November 3, 2011

The New American Dream

"I'm so nervous for my son," the sweet crossing guard tells me. "He lives near Wall Street, and those protesters may start getting violent." 

She's not American by birth, so she doesn't understand. I try to explain. "Americans are too lazy to riot," I reassured her. "What the Londoners did? And the Greeks? Americans can't exert that much energy." 

She was still rather dubious, but then Joel Stein arrived, not a week later, to validate my theory. (Time magazine now requires online readers to be actual subscribers, so I will try to synopsize and quote the funny bits).  

In his article entitled "Nice Work If You Can Avoid It," Stein writes about the joys of laziness, something I can relate to. American's work ethic has plummeted, and narcissism has arisen.
People like me have worked not-hard to replace the work ethic with the leisure ethic. We value innovations such as Angry Birds, Avatar and Facebook instead of laying down railroad track and getting to the moon. We have even invented a euphemism for laziness: work-life balance. Just like not so long ago, we invented a euphemism for narcissism: Oprah
Is it a bad thing? Stein says not.
Some will bemoan our nation's laziness. Not me. And not just because bemoaning sounds like a lot of work. It's because laziness is the mark of a mature society. China is exciting right now with all that dynamic growth, but you don't want to live there with its smog, dangerous infrascructure and insistence on learning math. You want to live in Italy, where no one has worked for centuries . . . Americans were so ready for a lazy cafe culture that we spent the last 15 years building nothing but Starbucks
He does have a point. The place where I want to visit is Italy, where the government may be corrupt but where life is worth living.
There was no leisure culture until now because leisure culture sucked. Of course our grandparents liked to work. When they weren't working, they were at home with their eight children. Without television. 
Shiver. And now, my favorite line from Stein:
Our great-grandparents worked hard so we wouldn't have to. To strive is to dishonor them.
(Wiping away a tear) Sniff. Too true. Too true.
In your honor, Zeidy.


guyinla said...

Uhhh check out Occupy Oakland they've been having riots for a week.

Princess Lea said...

In my defense I kinda wrote this post up last week. So I'll tweak my theory to New Yorkers.

aminspiration said...

Our great-grandparents worked hard so we wouldn't have to. To strive is to dishonor them.

I love this line! Hilarious!

Princess Lea said...

Isn't that line perfection? It's my new motto!

aminspiration said...

i dont think it shud be your new motto. But it is quite cleverly worded.

%Shocked% said...



Expatriate Tax Return said...

Wonderful post! Well written!