1. Toughen Up
A large portion of Americans are becoming soft (both physically and mentally), especially among the college educated. While being able to evade physical discomfort is one thing, it has now gotten to the point where some individuals feel the need to be shielded from even hearing words that might make them uncomfortable.
Hiding in their echo chambers, such individuals are willingly to relinquish their first amendment rights in return for safe spaces where they do not need to fear encountering any cognitive dissonance. This is a direct result of these individuals lacking a strong mental core that can deal with the non black-and-white reality of the real world.
Every time that I land at JFK international airport and proceed to midtown Manhattan, I am amazed by what I see: overweight individuals unable to reach their gate without the aid of power scooters, kids crying that the public wifi is not fast enough to stream movies, and certain individuals lacking the general focus and discipline required to properly execute even the simplest of tasks.
I am not saying that Americans are necessarily becoming lazier when it comes to work. Many Americans are now working longer hours for lower wages than they did in the past. And perhaps over exhaustion is contributing to the average person’s passiveness. Apart from the clear decline in the physical health of the nation’s individuals, my primary point is that people no longer seem to have the mental fortitude and strength of character required to stand-up for themselves, let alone a greater cause.
While growing up in a stable environment which lacks terrible adversity is a blessing, some Americans can no longer tolerate even the slightest discomfort. In comparison, I know Russians who grew-up during the 1990s that spent their winters in apartments which lacked heat while outside temperatures dropped to -40 degrees. Even electricity was intermittent in some areas of Russia during this time. While its not atypical for a Russian to have spent a winter without heat, I’m not sure that some Americans could survive an afternoon without Netflix.
Its absolutely true that a bit of adversity helps build a person’s character and strength. Most importantly, it makes a person stronger and enables them to better preserver through the future challenges that await them during the remainder of their life. By continuously coddling Americans throughout their entire childhood and early adulthood, they are being stripped of the strength that they will need to both persevere through difficult times and accomplish great things.
2. Experience/Appreciate More The Present Moment
Russians tend to live more in the current moment than Americans do. The recent decades of instability and uncertainty in Russia have taught Russians not to take things for granted. Russians are more appreciative of what they have at a given moment, since many remember what true scarcity actually is. If they possess the funds to take an international vacation, a Russian will not think twice about going. They never know when the next economic crises or round of government sanctions will hit and cut their spending power in half. I have met many Russians, who earn less than one thousand US dollars per month, that have traveled more than most Americans that I know. A Russian never knows when misfortune will again strike, and thus chooses to act while they know they can.
American culture teaches Americans that everything will only get better with time and that they should sacrifice now for a better future. While this has normally been good practice given the reliability of American institutions, American society is quickly changing. Secondly, buying consumer items such as big screen TVs and McMansion homes are not true investments. The 2008 housing crisis revealed this to many people. Currently, less than half of all Americans have more than $1000 in their savings accounts, and it’s easier than ever to fall into the American debt trap.
While many Russians live paycheck to paycheck or off their government pensions, the average Russian holds significant less debt than the average American. With the future becoming more and more uncertain, perhaps its time for Americans to learn to live more in the moment. Or at the very least, start making their own life choices based on their current realities instead of relying on the promises of past generations.
3. Focus On The Things That Actually Matter
Americans are easily distracted by frivolous bullshit. Celebrity gossip and pointless drama consume a large portion of many citizen’s attention spans. Often lacking an actual true cause to stand for, individuals search for meaning by becoming ill-informed online hashtag activists who support “movements” which are often clandestine campaigns being run for political or financial profit. They argue about gender pronoun use and other faux social justice crusades, rather than working to actually reform systems so that they better support all citizens, including in particular the historically disenfranchised.
Russians have less time for such nonsense. Their Candy Crush score or number of Instagram followers are not their top concern. If a Russian’s health and family are doing alright and they can pay the current month’s rent, then their primary concerns have been addressed. They are then likely to focus their remaining time with friends and family or on their own improvement and self-development. Americans need to be reminded that there are more important things in life than being the owner of the newest iPhone.
4. No Seriously, Toughen Up
The American population’s general lack of awareness, indifference, and inability to think critically about issues is probably the biggest long-term threat to the nation’s national security. The demand for spectacle and distraction has grown to such an extent that there is now almost no room left for nuanced thought. If the average American does not take back his country’s institutions and force them to actually represent his best interests, he will only further lose his sovereignty. Americans may need adapt some Russian toughness to prevent their nation from potentially becoming more like Russia in different and less desirable ways.