New Year’s Resolutions and the Betterment of America


It’s that time of year again when people across the United States (and beyond, of course) make vague New Year’s resolutions.

They vow to be better human beings, healthier individuals, or more staunch defenders. The thing about most of these resolutions is that they usually focus on the betterment of the individual. They revolve around improving a person’s life. What about improving the lives of millions? What if more Americans promised to make the country a more rational place? In other words, what if they made a commitment to restore some common sense? After all, in this rather crazy world, common sense is terribly unusual.

Fifty years ago, Kurt Vonnegut wrote “Harrison Bergeron,” a dystopian science-fiction short story filled with a few laughs. In 2081, through the introduction of various disabilities, all US citizens are made “equal”. The law is, somewhat ridiculously, fully enforced by Diana Moon Glampers, Handicapper General. Disabilities come in many forms. For example, the country’s top ballerinas refrain from dancing too beautifully. The smart ones, meanwhile, refrain from being too smart. A wise man has a device implanted in his ear. Why? Because he is very intelligent. To impair his intellectual abilities, every 20 seconds, a sharp sound is emitted, preventing him from having any truly constructive thoughts.

Fast forward to today, and the United States reflects this fairy tale. Sadly, unlike Vonnegut’s story, the United States is not funny about the sorry state it now finds itself in. A country that once boasted of greatness finds itself handicapped in many ways.

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If in doubt, let me point you in the direction of the education system. The United States was once home to the best education system in the world. Now, as you probably know, that is no longer the case. A recent report from the World Top 20 Project, an international organization that collects and analyzes educational data, shows that the United States now trails the likes of Finland, Denmark and South Korea. Since the early 2000s, educational standards have continued to slip. There are many reasons for this setback. One of them involves the “woke” craze that has infiltrated US classrooms from the elementary to the university level. Spreading false narratives and punishing pushbacks—all in the name of progress, of course—has proven counterproductive. Facts have been replaced by dangerous fictions. Common sense is set aside.

This craze also played a significant role in the destruction of the entertainment industry. Not so long ago, there was a time when the United States produced great TV, great movies, and great music on a consistent basis. Alas, those days are gone. When was the last time a new TV show, movie or artist got you really excited? That’s not to say that great musicians or great movies don’t exist anymore; To say that they are extremely rare.

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Like the education industry, the entertainment industry has replaced the pursuit of excellence for something else entirely. When Hollywood sold itself to China, it resulted in lower quality films tailored to Western audiences; Compelling storylines were traded for boring franchises. As American director Quentin Tarantino recently lamented, franchises are responsible for the “Marvelization” (a reference to the proliferation of Marvel movies) of Hollywood.

Doctor Strange
Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres on May 2, 2022 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

While the TV industry didn’t sell itself to China, it did sell itself to diversity gurus, the kind of people who obsess over cast members’ skin color and sexual orientation rather than their actual acting ability. A TV show is more likely to be judged by the diversity of its cast than by its actual dialogue or plot. A show like “Friends” could not be made today, because the cast was not diverse enough.

The decline of the music industry, meanwhile, is a little more difficult to explain. In an essay published last year, I described how the rise of YouTube was a destructive force for musicians who pride themselves on producing real music. Today, I observed, “Musicians are no longer awarded for originality.” Instead, “an artist is more likely to be judged by the quality of their video than the quality of their music.” This explains why an average artist can create a mediocre song and be treated like Elton John or David Bowie. Generally, if the video is sensational enough, the music doesn’t matter. A large number of people now consume music with their eyes, not their ears.

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The deterioration of the country’s educational standards and the entertainment industry are just two examples of the country’s decline. One wonders what Kurt Vonnegut, the aforementioned author, blessed with brains and a sense of humor, would have to say about this alarming decline. We will never know. But what we do know is this: If the decline is to be arrested, millions of Americans need to be pulled in the same direction.

Happy New Year!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Mac Glion

John MacGlion was a researcher and essayist. He covers psychology and social relations and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation. His work has been published by the New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review and The Spectator US, among others.


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