Monday, July 12, 2010

L.S./M.F.T.

Luck Strike Means Find TobaccoSome of our nation's young people still act as though it will take immeasurably longer for their brain's development to catch up with their over-all physical development, than others in their peer group.

It's as though we have spoiled six-year olds inhabiting adult bodies, but, unlike six-year olds who're physically limited, these mental juveniles can plan, organize, and otherwise use their adult cunning to challenge cops, damage and destroy public and private property--all the while giving the proverbial finger to parents, whom, I trust, would disapprove of this type of behavior, and a protruding tongue to the quality of their rearing, or lack thereof.

Having reached the limits of their prodigious patience, some cities are preparing to fight back:

PHILADELPHIA — It started innocently enough seven years ago as an act of performance art where people linked through social-networking Web sites and text messaging suddenly gathered on the streets for impromptu pillow fights in New York, group disco routines in London, and even a huge snowball fight in Washington.

Flash MobBut these so-called flash mobs have taken a more aggressive and raucous turn here as hundreds of teenagers have been converging downtown for a ritual that is part bullying, part running of the bulls: sprinting down the block, the teenagers sometimes pause to brawl with one another, assault pedestrians or vandalize property.

On Wednesday, the police here said that they had had enough. They announced plans to step up enforcement of a curfew already on the books, and to tighten it if there is another incident.

They added that they planned to hold parents legally responsible for their children’s actions. They are also considering making free transit passes for students invalid after 4 p.m., instead of 7 p.m., to limit teenagers’ ability to ride downtown.


Lucky Strike, now more often referred to as "Luckies," introduced a message on its cigarette packs in 1917.

It was: L.S.M.F.T. (Luck Strike Means Fine Tobacco).

Now what does all this, a brand of cigarettes, "Luckies," have to do with the topic at hand. Well, not much.

Just this: A book I read years ago said that Lucky Strike's popular message could be used as a mnemonic device to remember something more important than a cigarette message; the initials of the message representing something infinitely more valuable--a key to understanding human behavior, and a reminder of a methodology that would allow one to respond in a way that could defuse a human interaction gone awry.

It is this: Low Self-esteem Means Friction and Trouble (L.S.M.F.T).

This little bit of knowledge has served me well over the years, and have extricated me from some rather sticky situations that could have spiraled out of control, but for it.

For all the laboriously slow methods available to us to win fame and success (college, starting a business), we seem to be living now in an era of instant gratification. And, too, quite aptly, we have been called the "throw away society," and that, too, may also be true. We, as a society, it seems, don't value anything as much as we used to.

Now we want things quickly without resorting to the tried and true methods of the past--hard work, elbow grease, true grit, or moxie.

For better or for worse, we're living during a time, thanks to the Internet, and a twenty-four hour news cycle, and cameras and cellphones everywhere, as ubiquitous as portable transistor radios used to be, where the average Joe or Jane can now become a celebrity over night.

Consider the 'Barefoot bandit' with a cult following on Facebook of around 60,000 fans, and a reputation rivaling that of Bonnie and Clyde, and the sudden success and fame of a homeless man caught on camera folding an American flag, military style, that had come unmoored from it's mooring during a storm.

Now captured in the Bahamas, there's talk of the existence of a possible movie deal for the "Barefoot bandit," and most likely a book deal, as well, and that the homeless man is receiving job offers, and other outpouring of largesse from grateful strangers around our usually jaded nation that were moved by his uncommon display of patriotism.

Reality T.V. shows, often featuring the common man and common woman, who, in past years, would have been dubbed "Everyman," can now garner a following to equal that of movie stars.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 is one of those shows, that, at its peak, attracted as many as 9.8 million viewers.

With all this allurement of instant fame and monetary success just a video away, or a Reality T.V. show away, or a foolish stunt away, or an eluding of the cops away--who needs to work hard, study hard, and sacrifice time, and energy to bring one's self-esteem up, and launch it into the stratosphere of public acclaim, and monetary rewards.

Instead, all that is now needed is luck, a gimmick, and a good agent.

6 comments:

msladydeborah said...

This trend is already spread like the oil in the gulf. I saw this happening here before hard winter weather set in. It is definitely a very stupid trend.

It is definitely a cry for some attention. I also see it as a sign that this society had better consider what needs to be a priority on our list of social acts we need to really work on.

I'm sure that we will read about the clash if it ever happens. The news won't be good. And there's going to be a whole lot of opinions circulating about the problem. A study that confirms what we already know is at the root and then what? This is the part that never emerges like I think that it should. It would be so nice to see the money that is used to study problems used instead to set up for real relief to the problem.

Greg L said...

With all this allurement of instant fame and monetary success just a video away, or a Reality T.V. show away, or a foolish stunt away, or an eluding of the cops away--who needs to work hard, study hard, and sacrifice time, and energy to bring one's self-esteem up, and launch it into the stratosphere of public acclaim, and monetary rewards.

All of the above is true plus some. I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was a youth, but the thing that limited how far I went was fear. There was a certain reality that fear imposed that made me not want to go too far. I didn't want to ever be in jail because I had too much that I wanted to do that would be prevented by that. Fear is a good thing. I'm not suggesting that anyone need live cowering in the corner, but fear combined with something you have to live for is a great motivator.

These kids feel like they have nothing to live for except the moment. This combined with rampant hedonism is what we're seeing here. It's a reflection of today's societal norms, as you point out.

It's very difficult I think to give someone something to live for except that it come from parents and that's really the crux of the issue in many ways. These kids have experienced things that even we as adults haven't because they lack the moorings from a real home and a real family. The whole situation is exacerbated by the whole instant gratification deal.

I just think that any circumstance can be overcome. We need to spend a lot of time in these communities explaining the concept of future and how our actions as individuals can cloud not only our own future but that of those around us. If these kids could understand those concepts, much of this behavior would disappear. Of course, all of this is easier said than done.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "I didn't want to ever be in jail because I had too much that I wanted to do that would be prevented by that. Fear is a good thing."

Fear is often love in disguise. You avoided certain behavior, because you LOVED freedom too much, and LOVED the pursuit of your life goals too much.

"These kids feel like they have nothing to live for except the moment. This combined with rampant hedonism is what we're seeing here. It's a reflection of today's societal norms, as you point out."

Hedonism is an outgrowth of our materialism. We are, after all, three-part beings. We have a body, a mind, and a soul.

Where there's no balance between the three, one or two can overwhelm the others.

In our society, the body predominates, the mind not so much, and our soul rarely, because it, too, can become corrupted by the body, even if, and when, we use the church to spiritualize our existence.

What takes the lead in our society are body values, our materialism. We see the dictates of it infusing our society, our politics, and our economy.

With these examples to emulate, our young people have come to believe that our body, that is, materialism (catering to the demands of the body), is the most important of the three elements of our being to receive our attention and dedication.

The church, by and large, has failed to spiritualize the populace.

That should have been its mission. Instead it has hopped aboard the materialism train, focusing, it seems, more on its edifices, the collection plates, and equipping their pastors with the finest homes, and the latest, most expensive cars to show off.

I'm not knocking wealth, or fine homes, or fine cars--but the spiritualization of the flock should have been job one, and not the other way around.

"The whole situation is exacerbated by the whole instant gratification deal."

Without a spiritual basis--not necessarily a religious basis because they're not one and the same--things aren't properly assessed.

And this assessment is critical to forcing balance. Without balance, certain things are given more importance than they really have, and are elevated to a position in our lives that isn't justified by the return on our investment.

"We need to spend a lot of time in these communities explaining the concept of future and how our actions as individuals can cloud not only our own future but that of those around us."

True. But that's best done within a spiritual framework, not as a hypothetical, but a real, palpable, experiential, spiritual reality. Anything short of that leaves too many things open to speculation, and conjecture.

Black Diaspora said...

@msladydeborah: "It is definitely a cry for some attention. I also see it as a sign that this society had better consider what needs to be a priority on our list of social acts we need to really work on."

This is where so-called primitive societies excel, and can teach us a thing are two.

In many of these societies, rearing the next generation of their people is given as much, if not more importance, as the accumulation of food, and shelter.

In our society, children are often seen as we see our cars, or some other item of value--something to show off, and boast about, without putting in the actual work of childrearing.

All too often, we take better care of our cars, than our children and their needs.

"It would be so nice to see the money that is used to study problems used instead to set up for real relief to the problem."

I agree. Studying the problem gives us a false sense of accomplishment without really doing anything about the problem which was, after all, the goal to begin with.

Greg L said...

True. But that's best done within a spiritual framework, not as a hypothetical, but a real, palpable, experiential, spiritual reality. Anything short of that leaves too many things open to speculation, and conjecture.

BD, there was so much so say here that's quotable. I'm feeling you and you're very correct on the churches. All too frequently, they're into this prosperity sort of ministry where money is really on the altar. There's no attempt to make folks spiritually aware. In many ways, the church is as much of a farce as everything else.

No, there's nothing wrong with having wealth and material things, the problem becomes when one is effectively worshipping those things. I'm convinced that nearly every problem in the world today can be traced to the love of money or the love of the things it can get you. People live their entire lives around the thought of money and gaining riches. We're socialized that way. The reason you get an education is to get more money so you can live the "good life". The reason you want to be the best you can be is not to benefit society, but so you can get paid and live the "good life". People stress and send themselves to the grave over losing the "good life". Our entire economy and the way our economic lives have been set up revolves around the love of money and things and this is why pundits worry about the social fallout behind all of the economic upheavals as people see the "good life" shrink away from their grasp.

There was a time in this nation, where the good life is far simplier and less materialistic. People were more spiritual then because they didn't have the mad chase after money and things blocking their spiritual growth. I would say that the people who are viewed as deprived third worlders are far better off in this regard as long as they've not been invaded by this love of money and things doctrine. It is frequently necessary for that doctrine to corrupt people in furtherance of the evil designs of those who drive it.

I'm not a theologian by any means, but the bible does say that the love of money is the root of all evil. In today's time and age, there's no truer statement.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "The reason you get an education is to get more money so you can live the 'good life'".

Even educational pursuits are now for suckers. I'll take that up in my next blog entry.

"There was a time in this nation, where the good life is far simplier and less materialistic."

And people were happier, and closer for it. It brought communities together. People cared about their neighbors and their well-being.

Contrast that with today. I've never spoken to my neighbor, and he's never spoken to me.