I hate smokers. To begin with, cigarette smoke stinks. It’s pervasive and dirty. There’s no escaping it. The carcasses of this disgusting habit are carelessly discarded everywhere like they’re naturally occurring vegetation. I walked into an office the other day right as the receptionist was rushing outside to put out a cigarette butt thrown in the mulch where it had caught fire not 5 feet from the ash tray beside the door. With an inch of ash dangling from the end waiting to burn holes in the carpet or upholstery smokers act as if holding a cigarette is as natural as having a digit on their hand. Every time I pass a car to see the driver with a cellphone in one hand and a cigarette in the other I just want to run them off the road. Forget texting and driving, put out the cigarette and drive. But smoking is just one of the most visible compulsions of american’s to overindugle with wreckless abandon displaying all lack of self control. It’s one of the reason’s why the government has to step in a regulate it. Yet despite heavy health warnings and government regulations for sales and advertising tobacco companies still manage to squeak our $35 billion dollars in revenue a year. Americans believe so strongly in their personal rights to do whatever they want to whenever they want to that they go overboard. Smoking, eating, drinking, the list could go on and on.
This became self-evident to me recently as I spent a beautiful week in the Bahamas with my wife. It’s been a while since I’ve vacationed outside the US, and while the Bahamas aren’t a stretch by any means, it’s still an international location. I enjoyed hearing the different languages from French and German to Spanish and Japanese. And while the Bahamas don’t have the smoke free environment that much of the US has gone to, I didn’t find those who were smoking to be intruding on my personal space. As I sat and people watched one afternoon I became embarrassed. I didn’t want to be an American. Watching them walk around downtown Nassau after getting off the cruise ship carrying the 36 ounce Margarita bongs they picked up at Senor Frogs trying to find their way to the casino where they hope to make a million dollars or lose it all trying.
I’ve traveled all over the world and no where else do I see where a population could be defined as out of control as Americans. Whether it’s those who indulge in food, or who go to the opposite extreme to become Jersey Shore wannabe’s, clubbing, drinking, and hooking up with reckless abandon; American’s love to be loud, proud, and in your face about everything. I recently read a Time Magazine article about the Millennial generation. They test higher than any previous generation for narcissism. It doesn’t matter how low our national math and science scores are, “here’s you medal good job for trying sweetie”. We’re dumber, slower, fatter, lazier, and prouder of it.
Life it good today due to the work of generations before. But I fear it’s slowly being decayed by the ugly American’s we are becoming. If you look at it from the other side can you not see how decadent and insulting we are to the world? We are so out of control that New York City had to ban jumbo sized soft drinks. It’s sad. There was a day when the world wanted to be American’s. The land of opportunity. The home of the free and the brave. Where the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free could gather away from tyrannical leadership to live a life to their utmost potential. Our grandfathers, the greatest generation, fought to set a standard to be proud of for the rest of our lives. A constant reminder of what being an American is about. And it’s about setting a standard worthy of living, not one to make others envious. A better America, not an uglier one.