The bumper sticker “Prosperity is my birthright” speaks for people I know. “Tomorrow will be like today, only more so.” Some of them are nice enough people, but they share the assumption that they will always be the pinnacle of civilization and knowledge and wealth. Somehow, someway there will always be money and things to buy with it, people to respect our position, and freedom to do as we please. I admit that sometimes I catch that bug too. I generally get disabused quickly when I do something stupid.
You’d think 9/11 would have been a wake-up call that our military isn’t infinitely powerful. I guess not; there seems to be a feeling that we have so much surplus capacity that we can make the first priority of the military be promoting diversity.
The proud: all around. Lewis noted that pride is one of those things we can’t stomach--in other people. Corrupt: Do I have to name names? You find it down at the local level too, where regulations get adjusted for the well-connected developer or the landowner who doesn’t want company. And so on through the list; it isn’t edifying to go into detail. ('God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.')
We’re confident in our uniqueness and wisdom. Every other society regulates sex, but in the West we’re so wise and noble that we don’t need to. We have such infinite resources that we can afford to subdivide every group indefinitely, declare them all oppressed, and create machinery to guard each against every nano-aggression. Remember how surprised people were back in 2008 to find that the stock market could go down as well as up?
I think at the back of everyone’s mind is a cowering realization that things can’t always go on like this, and that the fear of that end and the gap between expectations and realities feed a restless search for the next-door enemies that are somehow blocking the arrival of paradise.