Do the people of the United States have anything close to a common goal for the future of the country… or of the world?
From what I’ve observed, there is a welter of conflicting goals, and the vast majority of those goals are highly personal, and most could be reduced to two words: “more” and “celebrity.” That is, most people want more of everything, and they want to be famous… or at least become “someone.” And there is also a large contingent of people who just want to be “happy.”
Now, I’d be the last one to deny personal ambition, but I’d like to point out that the big problem with these three “goals” is that people seeking them directly will almost always fail. They’re all by-products of other acts and ambitions. Yet more and more my wife the university professor sees students with these sorts of general and vague visions and goals. When I was young, a long time ago, young people had much more specific and focused ambitions. They wanted to be doctors, professional athletes, pilots, president of the United States, or to build houses or buildings, to be the first man or woman on the moon. The focus was on accomplishments, not upon the results of accomplishments.
There are still young people with specific accomplishments as goals, but there are far fewer of them. Equally unfortunate is the fact that virtually no national politician or aspiring politician seems able to articulate a clear vision of a future for the nation except in general terms, such as “to return to the values of the past” or “to be a force for good in the world” or “to strengthen our nation and economy” or “to seek equality and fairness” and so forth.
Exactly how are we supposed to accomplish any of these, even assuming that they’re worthwhile, and I have grave doubts of that in the case of some of these general platitudes?
Any policy or goal that’s specific seems to get shot down before it can even be discussed. Rebuild our infrastructure? Too expensive. Enact measures to stop global warming? Also too expensive, and besides we couldn’t really do anything. Improve health care for those who lack it? You can see what happened there.
All of this raises a more fundamental set of questions. Do we really want leadership and challenges? Or do most Americans just want “more” ?