April 30, 1999
In this age of instant coffee, instant rice and
other kinds of instant gratification, the world
expects instant answers and instant solutions.
Name your problem, and I've seen a twelve step
plan to fix it.
Overweight? I have a seven day diet for you.
They announced a new pill this week that keeps your
body from absorbing the fat you stuff in your face.
Or if that's too slow, why not just have it sucked right out of you
while you wait?
If that doesn't work, how about exercising
without actually exercising? Just attach these
electrodes to your behind and let them do the work.
No reason for you to break a sweat.
Want to become a more effective manager at work?
All you need is a book and thirty seconds. A better lover? Take
this small blue pill. Just hope that you're not
one of the hundred or so who have suffered the
minor side effect of dropping dead.
Want instant religion? How about reading the
seven or eight hundred books written this month by
people who have talked to angels. Not to mention
the bumper crop of cults, gurus, flying yogis and
churches run from someone's basement.
Just give us a simple long distance plan, flat
taxes and one size fits all sweat pants.
The problem is we start to expect simple answers
to the really difficult questions, like: why do
kids in Littleton or Taber kill other children?
Before the bodies had been counted in Colorado,
the "experts" were telling us why kids go so
It's simple, some said. It's the violence on
television and in the movies.
Well, many of us grew up on the Three Stooges
without poking anyone's eye out. We never dropped
an anvil on anyone, and the sight of Arnold
blasting his messy way through a bunch of bad guys
doesn't inspire us to do the same.
Jack the Ripper never had the benefit of any of
these forms of entertainment, and look how well he
turned out. Not to mention Ivan the Terrible,
Caligula and Bluebeard
Much was made about the Colombine High School
killers playing Doom, Quake or Duke Nukem. Bearded
professors and sociologists condemned these
computer games, and said they turned two boys into
I can't tell you how many hours I've wasted over
the years playing these computer games. All
they've made me is bug-eyed and slightly dizzy.
Homicidal? Not as much as when I have to wait in
the only bank line open at lunch time.
Another simple solution for these tragedies was
Satanism and devil music. I heard Marilyn Manson's
name mentioned about a dozen times. Somehow I
doubt the Prince of Darkness and Master of Lies
will appear in pantyhose with his own merchandising
website. And what about the Alice Cooper and Black
Besides, how do you explain nutjobs like David
Koresh? Do we ban the Bible because of all the
crazies who get inspiration from it? Or do we just
take out Revelations and keep it in the "Adults
Only" section of the bookstore with a "parents
advisory" sticker on it
In the end, there is no simple answer to these
two tragedies. Disturbed people will find
"inspiration" wherever they need to. There is no
instant fix, and in the end simple solutions don't
They just give us the comfortable illusion that
we've done something.