The president is not the problem with the United States of America. We are. Depending on how you voted, you may or may not even recognize a problem in the U.S. But let me assure you: there is a problem, and we are the problem.
To hear the pundits squabble, America has never been more divided. Racial, political and socioeconomic gaps have not only cut the country open, they’ve gutted it. I don’t disagree with the notion that there is a gap in America, but the massive schism exists between what we’ve accomplished and what we think we deserve.
Never before has America been home to such a devastating complexion of underachievement and entitlement. While paradoxical at first, it’s clear that these two mentalities feed off each other to create a true “chicken and egg” relationship, and I don’t know which came first. But I do know that those two approaches to life cannot coexist productively. And these two absurdities permeate every class, race and gender of this nation.
Somehow the status quo is no longer merely accepted — it is preferred. If you disagree, I’d love to hear the story of how your efforts to advance yourself, your family, your community and your nation have exceeded the efforts of your parents or grandparents. I’m not speaking of social enhancement, corporate ladder climbing or financial success; I’m talking about efforts. And if your efforts truly surpass those of the previous generation, I’d love to hear your story and let you buy me a cup of coffee (I deserve it).
Unfortunately, few of us have that story. Yet we all think we deserve more. I’m sure I could present a compelling argument for my deserving of more money, things or vacation. But like everyone else who felt the sting of guilt while reading the previous paragraph, I’ve fallen short of the legacy set for me by previous generations. I’m not deserving of what I do have, and I’m even less merited in wanting more.
The predicament of “getting what we deserve” is that none of us are going to like it. And the predicament of giving people “what they need” is that none of us can define what that is. Relying solely on the government to define those needs and relying on others to provide them is simply impractical and leaves everyone frustrated. And it leaves everyone complaining.
But if we all committed the time we would have spent whining over the next four years — be it about Barack Obama, the House, the Senate or even the weather or the Atlanta Braves — and spent it advancing our efforts I think we might see some real growth as a country.
Something tells me that a little more effort by us — the problem — will go a long way in reducing the nation’s sense of entitlement and disdain for the needs of others.
I’m only 25 years old and I am often blown away by the progress I’ve seen in this country even over my relatively short lifetime. But other trends are downright disgusting. Let’s make sure that the next generation isn’t disgusted by our collective lack of effort.
Let’s make sure that the next generation doesn’t inherit our sense of entitlement. If we can fix those two things, the rest will start to fix itself.
Because the problem isn’t the president; the problem is the present. And as part of the problem, I guess I’m extremely qualified to write this.
Andrew D. Hall is a financial planner in Marietta.