Monday, April 12, 2004

Hardship and the American Character

Steven Den Beste comments on how the definition of "hardship" changes depending on the circumstances. While I think he has a very good point, I don't think the definition changes that radically or that quickly among people who understand what life used to be like, and are grateful for progress. Even just considering gas prices, how quickly we have forgotten the energy crisis of the 70's, so that an increase in gas prices which makes gas still cost less than milk on sale makes us start crying "hardship".

It is part of the American character to gripe about little things like gas prices. Our constant griping is what drives our amazing inventiveness. If we were content to live like we used to 100 years ago, we would not be world leaders in technological advances or in business. I think a wise person can tell the difference between this sort of minor griping and a real driving force in American politics.

I think people who are aware of what life was really like a long time ago are not afraid of little increases in gas prices, because they know that if worse came to worse, there are other ways to transport oneself. Those who know no history are at the mercy of their ignorance ("However will we transport ourselves without a car? However will we cook without a microwave?"). Knowledge is power.