We live in a time, and in the society where everything is at our fingertips. The things we need or want are literally a click away. Hit “send”, and food is delivered to our doors within minutes, merchandise from Amazon will show up the very same day, and movies and music in the cloud are downloaded onto our devices within seconds. We have iPads, smart phones, FaceTime, Zoom, Netflix, all designed to facilitate the fulfillment of every one of our desires instantaneously. We want everything, and we want it now. It is like we are living in that old JG Wentworth commercial where people are screaming from their windows, “I need it now!”
US consumer debt grew to an all-time high of $14.8 trillion in 2020, an increase of 31% since 2010. Americans owe nearly $1 trillion in credit card debt alone. Instead of saving and waiting to buy the things we want, we charge or finance our purchases, pushing off debt to the future for the things we want today. It is a recipe for personal economic failure. Smart economic advisers recommend that the best way to create long term economic stability, and grow personal wealth is to pay off our credit cards and pay for things in cash. Straddling ourselves with a mountain of revolving debt will only lead to personal economic disaster.
Instant gratification does not only show up in our financial lives. Even though, life expectancy in the United States is at an all-time high of 78.99 years, and we are living longer than ever, we want to experience everything as soon as possible. Concepts like waiting until marriage have become archaic notions, no longer adhered to even though the consequences can be dire. Nearly half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, 40% of all births are out of wedlock, and there were 848,800 abortions in 2018. We cannot or will not delay the gratification even though we know that the outcomes of such actions could result in life-altering consequences.
This indulgent mentally has also changed the spiritual culture of America. Atheism is at an all-time high. Many of the people who no longer believe in God, will argue that prayer doesn’t work, as if they actually expected that simply by asking God for something, a new car, a raise, a promotion, or even for their sick child to get better, then it would automatically happen. God would wave a magic wand and give them whatever they want. So, when it did not work like that, they no longer had a use for a God who doesn’t automatically abide by their commands like their iPhone. This is why people worship their technology more than God these days.
But getting everything you want instantaneously, leads to disaster. Like in the movie, Bruce Almighty, when Jim Carrey is temporarily endowed with the power of God, and decides to give everybody everything they want by answering each prayer with, “yes”. This results in so many people winning the lottery, that each winning ticket was only worth $17 leading to mass riots. Jim Carrey giving everybody what they want now, cause destruction and devaluation of the things of life.
Prayer, the patience to wait for what we want is not compatible with modern life. In the movie, Rudy, the title character asked a priest if he has prayed enough, the priest responds, “Praying is something we do in our time, the answers come in God’s time.” Which is the way it should be. We shouldn’t get everything we ask for, whenever we ask for it. God will give us what we need when we need it. The Rolling Stones put it this way, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just might find, you get what you need.” But in today’s world of excess, delaying gratification, and being content with waiting to get the things we need is as arcane as a rotary phone.
Our media culture has also been corrupted by this instant mentality. Our media places more importance on being first than being right. The speed a story gets uploaded on the net to obtain the maximum number of clicks has superseded the need to be accurate, fair and unbiased. American media is no longer journalism. It has become click bait and echo chambers. It is instant gratification for their viewers, giving them what they want to hear now, not waiting and giving their viewers what they need hear.
This mentality has bled into our politics. Politicians are no longer willing to wait to ensure they achieve the best results for the country. They are intent on circumventing our system of government that was designed to maintain a balance of power, and keep all the different bodies of government in check. The Constitution created the structure and limits on the powers of government; the Senate and the Supreme Court were designed as deliberative bodies, to keep government from moving too fast in an effort to ensure that the fickle whims of the masses are tempered to maintain long-term stability and efficacy, not short-term wants and desires.
But that long-term vision has run headlong into the modern world’s need for instant gratification. This is why the Democrats are seriously considering packing the Supreme Court. They do not care about the long-term negative effects of compromising the integrity of our courts, and our government. They are only interested in the short-term immediate results which satisfies their agenda and expands their power. They do not care how these types of short-sighted decisions will ultimately destroy the foundation of our country which is the basis of our prosperity.
Along the same lines, the House recently passed legislation that would unconstitutionally make Washington, DC a state. They do not care about the future effects of undermining the system. They know by making DC a state, they will ensure permanent Democrat majorities in Congress, and thus the Democrats will get everything they want, instantaneously. This is very dangerous dynamic. Removing checks and balances on our politicians, puts us on the road to destruction.
We have already seen it with our recently elected leaders. With the passage of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act by the new Congress and President, the United States projected deficit will be $3.4 trillion in 2021 which totals 15.6 percent of GDP, the fourth highest in history, surpassed only by three years during World War II. We now project deficits that will total $16.6 trillion over the next 10 years. This year’s debt will be 108 percent of GDP, and it is projected that our debt will rise to 113 percent of GDP by 2031. The stability and credibility of our country has been greatly compromised due to this massive and reckless spending. We only care about the now. We have lost our foresight for the future. No one in power cares or considers that someone in the future will have to pay today’s debts. It is reckless and irresponsible, yet they do not care because they get what they want, and they get it now.
Is it a wonder that there has been an unholy alliance forged between big tech and our recently elected leaders? They are both vying for the role of God in our society, instantaneously answering the prayers of the people, offering them a utopia here on earth now, as opposed to what God offers, salvation for eternity. But what they offer comes with a debt that we will never be able to pay back, both individually and as a country.
Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He is a frequent contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.