Hall of Famer
- Aug 29, 2001
In 1941, life expectancy at birth in the United States was 64.8 (today, 77.8), only 6.8 percent of the population was over 65 (today, 16 percent), penicillin was on the horizon but the Salk polio vaccine was a dozen years distant, and most hospitals spent more on clean linen than medical technologies. Sixty-three percent of households did not have telephones, less than half the U.S. population age 25 and older had a high school diploma (today, 90 percent) and homosexual sex was criminalized in all 48 states. The nation has undergone a moral advancement — consider the casual callousness toward minorities of all sorts eight decades ago — as stunning as its material improvement.
Yet the United States’ social hypochondria has deepened, and Americans’ pain thresholds have lowered during the nation’s advancement. Perhaps it is progress, of sorts, that status anxieties have displaced material deprivations in fueling the national pastime — no, not baseball: whining. But to be 80 is to have, beginning in the second half of the 20th century, lived through the emergence of today’s therapeutic culture. It saturates a large class of painfully earnest Americans — expensively schooled but negligibly educated — who, when not extravagantly indignant about Lincoln and other supposed national blemishes, are preoccupied with their malleable identities and acute sensitivities.
Not my words, but George Will‘s on observing his 80th birthday. However I did read this on my front porch.
This deserves a highlight:
.Perhaps it is progress, of sorts, that status anxieties have displaced material deprivations in fueling the national pastime — no, not baseball: whining.
This sentence explains so much about politics, society, entertainment, sports, and life. This is what fuels many threads here. Status anxieties indeed.