My wife and I do not fight.
It’s not that we are opposed to fighting, and we’re certainly more than happy to argue a point when the time is right, but we just don’t disagree on much at all. When we disagree, we listen to each other and usually reach resolution absent any emotional response.
I don’t think either one of us as ever yelled at the other or even raised our voices.
This commercial, which first aired during the Oscars, might be one of our greatest sources of disagreement in our marriage. At the moment it ended, I turned to Elysha to declare my heartfelt affection for the commercial, only to be stopped as she was already declaring her hatred for it.
We discussed our differences of opinion. We each made a case for our position. She forward me a piece by a writer who supported her view. I watched the commercial again and again, reaffirming and strengthening my opinion each time.
We cannot agree on this commercial.
I won’t attempt to argue Elysha’s position here other than to say that the focus on materialism was just one of the elements that she despises.
But I love this commercial. For years, I have listened to a handful of friends describe the joys of the Spanish, French, Greek or Portuguese lifestyles, complete with long, afternoon lunches, siestas, shorter work days, copious amounts of wine, late night dinners and a slower, much more measured pace.
All of this sounds lovely until the Germans roll into your country with tanks and occupy it for years until those crazy, driven, hard working Americans and their fast-paced, high-stakes, never-stop lifestyle come to save you.
All of this sounds lovely as long as someone, somewhere is busy inventing air travel, telephonic communication, artificial hearts, television, lasers, the cure for polio, toilet paper, space ships, nuclear power, the Internet and everything else that those non-siesta loving countries are not.
All of this sounds lovely until your unemployment rate hits 27% (as it has in Greece and Spain) and your banking system nearly collapses the European Union and requires an international bailout.
I am one of the least materialistic people I know. I am writing this sentence on a hand-me-down table while sitting in a hand-me-down chair and staring into a living room of hand-me-down furniture. My car is twelve years old. My iPhone is at least two generations old. The television in our home is 13 years old and incapable of streaming Netflix. I don’t wear jewelry of any kind and refuse to wear any item of clothing that displays a name brand.
I am not interested in the accumulation of things.
But this is not a commercial about things. It’s a commercial that celebrates the driven, goal-orientated lifestyle that so many Americans lead. It’s a lifestyle that can result in great luxury (like a backyard pool and a Cadillac, which both sound lovely to me), but it’s also a lifestyle that sent astronauts to the Moon. It’s the lifestyle that liberated Europe, invent countless technologies, advanced countless others, cured diseases, halted Communist aggression and made America the wealthiest nation on the planet.
We are certainly not a perfect country. We have many problems and have created many, many more. The American lifestyle has certainly contributed greatly to climate change, and our decisions about where and when to deploy our military might are not always wise or just. We live in a society where the gap between rich and poor widens by the day, and our educational system is failing our children.
We have many, many problems.
But if an asteroid is suddenly discovered on a collision course with Earth, which country will the world turn to for salvation?
If a nation rises up and threatens to take over the world by overwhelming military force, who will the world turn to for help?
When natural disasters strike, which nation, more than any other, sends supplies, rescue teams and cash?
We do it because we can. We can because we are not eating long lunches and enjoying afternoon siestas. We do it because we are those crazy, driven, hard working Americans who seem to suddenly make all the sense in the world in times of crisis.
We work hard, we make our own luck and we believe that anything is possible.
Sometimes it works out, and you are able to afford a backyard pool and a Cadillac. I can’t, but I’m working on it, and good for those who can.