Is Uncle Sam still smiling

By Gus Bode

I have noticed that Americans as a whole seem to be getting greedier and our appetites are burgeoning out of control. Just go to any fast food joint and observe.

No longer is one limited just to “regular-sized” value meals. Now one can get a King size soda and fries with the double heart attack we call a Whopper.

How did we get so self-centered so quickly? I think it has to do with the prevalence of psychology and self-help in this country.

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I am a psychology major and so I guess I could be accused of helping people to be so self-absorbed that they forget their manners. If you want to point a finger at me I will acknowledge that my major bears a big part of the burden.

However, there is a huge difference between helping someone with a mental illness and telling him or her that all of his or her egocentric wants should be indulged.

Don’t get me wrong; people absolutely should be allowed to have preferences, assert themselves and set boundaries. But the essence of society, the very canvas this society was built on, has changed.

One hundred fifty years ago, the primary focus of society was not on the self, but the welfare of the family.

This was essential because the only thing pioneers had was the family unit, since neighbors may have been five or 10 miles away.

Back in those days, there was no HBO, no public library and no telephones. There were no cars either, so five miles by horse and buggy took at least one hour one way.

This society is too self-centered for my taste. Even 50 years ago, business was based on the tenet that “the customer is always right” and “smile if it kills you.”

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These days, I am lucky if I get prompt service that is right and presented with a pleasant attitude. And if you complain too much, you are accused of being belligerent.

Even telemarketers have more rights than I do.

Across the sea there is a lovely continent called Asia, where many of my friends are from.

The integral part of Asian culture is respect for family, elders and the community. But we Americans waged too many wars there, and somewhere along the way taught them that it is just as OK to overindulge in alcohol, sex and whatever else suits their fancy.

But we are an equal opportunity country. Remember that we also did this to the Africans when we suggested they sell their own and enslave them to the whites.

Remember the Trail of Tears? We also did this to the American Indians by demanding land that was never rightfully ours.

And now that Saddam Hussein is gone, what is left for Iraq? Don’t misunderstand me -he needed to go, and we need to deal with Al Qaeda. But Uncle Sam yet again thinks our way is the best way and that a culture like Iraq’s, so ingrained on interdependence, will thrive on Western-style democracy.

Before long, I fear this war will have paved the way for corporate America to introduce McDonald’s and the Gap to our Iraqi friends.

Heaven help us. As the famous line from Frankenstein says. “Igor, we’ve created a monster.”

Carrie is a senior in psychology. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian.

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