YouGov Shows Love Is All You Need (Or Want)

YouGovTed McLaughlin put together some data that seems worth looking at as the year comes to an end, What People Most Want In Their Lives. YouGov polled almost 20,000 people in 17 countries about what they wanted in their lives. And as should come as no surprise, people all over the world want the same things. But that’s partly my bias. I focus on the similarities. Others, I’m sure, would focus on the differences. But the fact is that nowhere on the list is “kill the infidel” or “restore the Constitution to its real meaning.” People mostly want to love and health.

But there were some interesting findings in the poll. The countries that are most ostentatiously religious were also the countries that wanted “spiritual progress.” These included: Indonesia, USA, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Thailand. They are the countries with 10% or more wanting that. A lot of it is religious fundamentalism. And as much as I go on about atheism, I am very worried about fundamentalism. The place I differ with many people is that I think religious fundamentalism in the United States is the most dangerous.

Love is the biggest thing that westerners want: 19% of them. For the east, the number if only 9%. I figure this has to do with money.

Strangely, there isn’t much correlation between “spiritual progress” and “moral virtue.” In fact, the USA is number one in the disconnect here. It tops out in terms of wanting spiritual progress at 13%, but it’s in the middle of the pack with wanting moral virtue of only 5%. That represents the largest gap of any nation. I assume it is because American religious people think they already have moral virtue. As I’ve written about many times, salvation comes very cheap to Americans. It’s like Santa Claus: they just have to believe and they get an all access pass to heaven.

There is one big difference between what people in the west want and what people in the east want. Love is the biggest thing that westerners want: 19% of them. For the east, the number if only 9%. I figure this has to do with money. Although there are some very rich countries representing the east, China and Indonesia dominate. And people just trying to get by don’t focus too much on things like love. And this is the area that is most stark. The lowest love score for the western countries is for the USA at 15%; and the highest love score for the eastern countries is 10%.

YouGov Poll

But I have to wonder about some of these questions. “Success in my career” has the USA scoring toward the bottom of the countries. Given that Indonesia is at the top, it would seem like it is an indication of how happy people are in their careers. But I suspect that is not happening here on the home front. I think people here have largely given up on the idea that work can get better. They figure that work is about as good as they could hope. If they even have a job, that’s a good thing.

A related statistic is that people in the USA are towards the bottom in wanting more free time. Americans work on average 1,789 hour per year, yet they are less inclined to want more free time than the Germans, who work on average 1,371 hours — almost a quarter fewer hours. We are also less interested in making more money. Americans are amazingly good at self-oppressing. No wonder we live in a plutocracy.

But at least most people agree that all we really need is love.


Because The Beatles didn’t believe the BS they shoveled, this is not The Beatles doing the song:

Henry Kissinger: Peace Prize Winning War Criminal

Henry KissingerI just watched The Trials Of Henry Kissinger. It’s based in part on Christopher Hitchens’ book The Trial of Henry Kissinger. It was published back in 2001, before Hitchens became just like Kissinger. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Hitchens ever forgave Kissinger. That was the interesting thing about Hitchens: he never went back on what he thought before. So a Kissinger in power in 2003 was just fine with Hitchens, even while it was clear as day that the actual Henry Kissinger of 1973 was a war criminal. Luckily, the film doesn’t dwell too much on Hitchens and provides Kissinger with a much more fair treatment than he deserves.

What most struck me in the film was that in 1968, the Johnson administration was on the verge of ending the Vietnam War. Kissinger was acting as a double agent — leaking information he gained from his position in the Johnson campaign to the Nixon campaign. And then Nixon used that information to convince South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu to reject the deal. Had the deal held, Hubert Humphrey might have been elected president. But that’s not really what’s important. What’s important is that the war could have been over then. Instead, it went on for another five years.

Half of the Americans who died in the Viewnam War did so after that date. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died after that date. And for what? So that Richard Nixon could be president? So that Henry Kissinger could further his career? Regardless of the way that you see it, there is no excuse for sabotaging the peace process. To me, it qualifies as treason. It makes the Watergate break-in sound like a trivial matter — even if you view it in its widest possible context. But this kind of thing seems to be acceptable now. Just look at the Republican letter to Iran that was meant to destroy the nuclear deal. It seems that among conservatives, their commitment is to gaining power and not the country itself.

Regardless, five years after Kissinger worked to destroy the peace deal in the Viewnam War, he brokered his own. He even got the Nobel Peace Prize. But I learned something new: the deal he worked out was almost identical to the 1968 deal he helped to derail. That’s really something. I wonder how people like that live with themselves. Is it really just that people who operate at that level are all psychopaths? Because that’s what it seems like.

There’s no indication that Kissinger or Nixon or anyone else actually thought that the Viewnam War was winnable. It was just a pawn in their little game. They were willing to kill hundreds of thousands of people on the theory that they could convince the American people that they had the secret to winning that war. I don’t think much of the American people, but I don’t think they would have gone for Nixon’s deal if he had been honest about it. There were two options. The first was that the war ends and that was that. The second was that the war continues on and we just hope for the best. I think the American people would have gone overwhelmingly for the first option.

Henry Kissinger is very old. Even if he weren’t, there would never have been any justice. But it would be right if he spent what little time he had left rotting in a prison cell. But even that is a fantasy. We’ll be lucky if after his death he gets anything but hagiography.

Morning Music: The Giving Tree

The Giving TreeElizabeth mentioned that she knew about Shel Silverstein’s poetry, “And oh, that book about a jerk of a person.” I correctly deduced that she was referring to The Giving Tree. The truth is that the tree is not real. It is rather the platonic ideal of motherhood or Mother Nature or certain conceptions of God: something that gets pleasure only through giving. The boy is all of us: searching for fulfillment from outside things and experiences — all of them doomed to disappoint.

It makes me think of the nature of friendship. A friend is not someone who helps you move to a new place; a friend is someone who you help move to a new place. It is, of course, great when friendship is reciprocated. But the nature of it is what you are willing to do and the feelings that you have. And so the giving tree has a very great friend in the boy. The boy, on the other hand, is a sad figure — alone in the world, apparently without friends.

Of course, if I wanted to, I could provide an endless number of interpretations of the book. It has much to say about aging and the need to be useful. All of the interpretations are poignant and edifying. That’s what makes it so great. “And the tree was happy.” It is what we all aspire to. We don’t need apples or branches or trunk for that.

Anniversary Post: LaGuardia Airport Bombing

LaGuardia AirportOn this day in 1975, a bomb exploded at the TWA baggage claim area at the LaGuardia Airport. It had the equivalent of 25 sticks of dynamite and killed 11 people. It remains an open case. No one knows who did it. No one ever claimed responsibility. Some of the possible perpetrators are the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Jewish Defense League, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, Croatian nationalists, and even the mafia. Or maybe it was just some crazy person. Regardless, it hurt a lot of people and had the effect of terrorizing the population.

What I continue to find shocking is that most people I talk to seem to think terrorism was something that started with 9/11. Most are even foggy on the USS Cole bombing. The Troubles were something that happened outside the United States and therefore never happened. But the truth is that terrorism is something we’ve lived with forever. The only thing that has changed is that we freak out far more now than we used to. In 1975, a deadly bombing was a terrible thing. But it wasn’t cause to change our very way of life.

Now it’s 2015 and a couple of maniacs going on a killing spree is cause for us go to war. Nothing matters but making us all feel safe. But not by doing anything about guns. That would be silly in that it might actually make people more safe. No. Instead we need to reduce our rights to privacy. And we need to stop “those people” from coming into the country. People go on television and say racist and patently false things like, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.”

People die unjustly all the time. The LaGuardia Airport bombing is a good example. People have always been murdered and based upon human nature, they always will be. But we are heading down a very dangerous path. We are looking at creating an authoritarian society that I don’t want to live in. The cure those on the right have to offer is far worse than the disease.