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Simple Minds

by Stephen Lautens

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 terribly wrong.

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 killing machines.

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 Sabbath generation?

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 solve anything.

They just give us the comfortable illusion that we've done something.


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