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OPINION

A Very Bored People

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Much of what Americans deal with would never have been on our forefathers’ radar. Why do we spend so much time on such trivialities?

Go to any mainstream website, and on the very first screen, there will almost certainly be a story about one of the following: the royals, some Hollywood personal drama, musicians’ love lives, or some fight between athletes. On the same screen or equivalent newspaper page with stories about the faltering economy, war and death in Ukraine, the destruction of the southern US border, fentanyl deaths, and China’s menacing threat to the free world, there always seems to be space for a duchess, Hollywood diva or spurned musician. Why do such trivial stories occupy such valuable digital real estate? The short answer is that we are bored people and we spend a lot of time on very trivial things.

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A few years back, Israeli TV showed the lives of the few Jews still living in Yemen. The family featured in the piece spent nearly all day preparing food, from cutting grain to make bread to slaughtering a bull to have meat on the table. What they did in the space of hours—daily--we do in half an hour at the local supermarket, and we have food for a few days or a week. What do we do with all of that free time gained by the luxury of modern food production, distribution, freezing/cooling, and sale? For many of us, we just waste it.

Most normal people are busy. They have families to raise, jobs or businesses that need large parts of their day, and also religious and/or community obligations that may be daily or weekly. In short, such people are busy and don’t have too much time to waste. But there are lots of people, also blessed with the same 24 hours in a day, who have much less to do. They are not interested in bringing up families beyond maybe a dog, or possibly they have a job that only requires a few hours of work from home. Such people can get bored. And thus, whereas our predecessors had to deal with feeding themselves, expanding westward, fighting off nature, illness, and enemies, and dealing with world wars then the cold war, today’s Americans often fight over who can use which bathroom or if we can we hide sex changes from children’s parents or why guys should be allowed to trounce women in sports, and the need to keep criminals on the street for the purposes of a delusional concept, “equity”. The great success of our nation in winning the big wars and defeating the Soviet Union in the cold war has left us bored, so instead of building an ever-greater country; we find ourselves fighting over trivialities and spending hours listening to pampered royals complaining about how hard life is in a $30 million mansion or similar tripe. 

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I came to Israel 30 years ago on a Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship. What I quickly learned was that there is not a single person here who does not know someone who was killed or wounded in one of Israel’s wars or in a terror attack. My son and I were injured in a suicide bombing in 2002. People think twice about whether they should get on a bus or whether it’s worth going to the beach in Ashkelon when rockets fell there the day before. While I would rather have the monotonous life in the US over one concerned with rockets and bombings, the point is that Israelis generally do not have the time to ruminate on trivial matters when life and death issues at times stare at them on a daily basis. Again, most normal Americans are busy with the necessities of daily life; others are not and thus have time to push horrific causes such as trans mutilation or green energy over reliable energy sources when their time would be better spent building a family and contributing to a more prosperous America.

So what is the solution to America’s boredom? One solution obviously is to get more of the younger generation to marry and bring up children. Nothing will keep a person busy like bringing up young kids. One thing that could help to both fill time and create a greater sense of patriotism is a new draft and/or form of national service. One often sees here Israeli soldiers on tours of Jerusalem to better connect them with their Jewish heritage and Israeli identity. I doubt that American 18-year-old students would enthusiastically embrace doing some type of military or national service. Still, the concept of giving back to a country that gives so much would hopefully break some of the narcissism that is so prevalent among American youth. I cannot push something that I did not do (I registered for the draft, as the law required), but getting American youth to think about how much they benefit from their amazing country and possibly helping others and thus pulling themselves out of a mentality that is centered solely on themselves could bring great rewards to the individuals and to American society.

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It is said that one can judge a person based on what makes him angry. One might suggest that one can judge a person based on how he or she uses free time, whether it be 10 minutes or six hours a day. With the downward trends in religion, family, and patriotism, the very issues that gave generations direction and focus on how to use their time are now in retreat. Serious people would not have endless hours for TikTok videos or Instagram postings. But we are oftentimes not very serious people, and savvy tech entrepreneurs are providing us with fluff to fill our unused hours.

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