Too Much is Never Enough

Researchers report significantly increased rates of suicide among U.S. military personnel, college students, and baby boomers.  Until now, suicide was most prevalent among teenagers and elderly persons.  Journalists have suggested a number of explanations for the phenomenon, among the more plausible of them the structural collapse of the American family in which troubled, lonely, and unhappy people traditionally found affection and support of both a moral and a material sort.  The widespread failure of the basic social unit in Western societies is only one among many signs of a growing and pervasive discontent with personal and institutional realities—in this instance, the fundamentally unromantic and unsentimental nature of the spousal relationship and its extended familial ones.  Discontent, a structural element of democratic systems, becomes an aggravated condition in mass democracies such as the United States, where popular politics and consumerist commerce both compete and combine in encouraging fantastic material expectations, a pernicious sense of rights and entitlements, and a false and ultimately diabolical metaphysic that is really no metaphysic at all.

Since World War II, Americans have been a progressively dissatisfied, restless, and perpetually demanding people.  When one considers the unprecedented extent of American affluence, individual freedom, economic...

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