Tag Archives: morals


The Food Buffet Serves Up What Is Wrong In America.

By: Chris Warren.

Regular readers know that Twenty First Summer is a libertarian, heavily pro-American platform. That doesn’t mean I don’t think the USA has any problems, but I typically keep my criticisms about the United States out of this blog. This time I just can’t let it slide. I’ve concluded that the food buffet of all places is a microcosm of what is wrong in the United States, and it embarrasses me not only as an American, but also as someone who believes in basic human decency.

As we entered the buffet, the wealth of food stretched before us gave us that “oh, wow!” breathless moment. This was not like the pre made frozen-then-reheated vats of soulless generic grub found on steam tables at inexpensive chain establishments and truck stops. This was an upscale experience of fresh seafood, cooked to order steaks, fresh soups, and beautifully made desserts from an in-house pastry chef. We were going high class that night.

The problem with this otherwise elegant buffet became immediately apparent. It wasn’t the food or the service. It was the other customers. We sat and politely ate our modest portions like civilized human beings while most, not all, but most, of the other buffet patrons proceeded to act like gluttonous slobs.

Buffet diners, many with a plate in each hand, lined up at the seafood station and piled on enough fish to nourish a pregnant sea lion for a week. Others were sitting at tables with three or four plates of mounded food in front of them. Another table had two large stacks of dirty dishes waiting to be carried away. The unfortunate buffet wait staff literally could not clear the table as fast as those two overstuffed pigs shoveled food in their mouths. By the way, I did not see anyone besides us leave a tip.

So what does a food buffet have to do with patriotism and being critical of Americans? Quite a bit. For beginners, the friend I was with is not originally from the United States. Even though he is a now a US citizen and fully acclimated into American culture, I was still embarrassed for him to see the spectacle. The frenzy of overindulgence and hedonism was unsettling. This is not the United States I want others to see.

The buffet customers, who are my fellow Americans, completely disgusted me. I’m confident that these are the same types who travel to other countries, act like they do here, and then wonder why Americans are resented. The pathos of the buffet slobs carries over to the attitudes of society in general:

  • People will take advantage of the system and grab up everything they can, even if it’s more than they need, or something they don’t need at all. They believe one of the goals of going to a buffet is to eat (or waste) more food than you paid for. They apply this ethic to every facet of their lives
  • There is no concern for those perceived as being of a lower social standing (in this case, wait staff). Servants’ needs and feelings are not relevant to those they serve.
  • Related to the last point, people will think that because they are paying for something (and even if they are not), they have the right to act superior and create gratuitous burdens on others. They believe their status as a client or customer absolves them of nearly any sociopathic behavior.
  • The attitude of entitlement is not more prevalent in any particular demographic. It occurs across all income, gender, and racial/ethnic groups.

How the citizens of a nation treat each other and humble themselves before the bounty they have been blessed with says something about that nation’s collective values, and the way I see it, the food buffet is a merely a symptom of the disrespect and lack of gratitude that exists everywhere.  For a guy who thinks the United States is the greatest place that has ever been or will be, it’s a difficult admission for me to make. But blind devotion is a false emotion; this one went far beyond mere table manners and must be called out for what it is. We The People can’t become better as a country if we think we are already superior as individuals.


Fencing In The Truth.

By: Chris Warren.

After a week of partisan screeching from both ends over two huge Supreme Court cases, a foreign trade deal, and a 150 year-plus cyclic hostility towards a flag, I’m ready to wish I was in a coma for the last few days. The headache is not from the nature of the issues, but from each faction insisting they are on the side of truth and the other is pulling off a great deception. I do believe there is a line where truth ends and lies begin, with a caveat that the specific boundaries are not easily determined by us mortals. Of course, mortals will always try anyway and fail. The failure comes out of the theory that for “my” side to be right, “your” side has to be wrong.

Although I do not consider myself a neutral bystander to any of these issues, I’m not so hardened to a view that I can’t admit those with whom I disagree have a point worth taking seriously. My boundary of truth is like one of those temporary fences used around constructions sites: Sturdy enough to maintain separation, flexible enough to be moved when needed, and is easily repaired when it gets plowed down.

There are absolutists who will shudder at my movable fence theory and accuse me of moral relativism. Naturally, their morals are the correct ones and everyone else, including me, is venturing down an evil path. It’s funny how easily they can identify everyone else’s inconsistencies while being completely if not willfully ignorant of their own. Whether it’s preaching about family values while hoping no one finds out about their own genetically-related dirt, or globe trotting aboard a carbon-puking private jet to get paid six figures giving speeches about how all the rest of us are earth killing slobs and puppets of the rich, they never fail to show us how problematic moral absolutes can be when one epically collides with a thick concrete wall of their own making.


Simply ignoring the self-appointed truth police is not enough of a defense. The pablum is too thick to plug one’s ears and hope for the best. The most effective and perhaps only defense is one’s own truth. That means clearly thinking through your beliefs and knowing how you arrived at them. It means admitting when an idea is wrong and discarding it instead of clinging to contorted rationalizations for keeping it.

More than all else it means not lifting yourself up by putting others down. It seems we live in a time when it’s not enough to be “right”. We must also beat down all who don’t go along. Almost everyone has at least one acquaintance who is on social media numerous times a day posting provocative articles and memes about controversial topics. Notice how nearly all of these nuggets of what they consider “truth” do not directly support their cause…they instead take cheap shots at the opposing cause. They are miniature versions of the larger media world. I find myself quickly clicking away from web pages and changing channels. I don’t necessarily disagree with what they are saying; I just don’t like the way they are saying it.

The default is to blame the internet and electronic media for the truth wars, but I’m not willing to go there. It’s too easy. The media as a communications mode is amoral, without  any inherent bias. People will be who they are; the internet just gives them a greater opportunity to make fools of themselves. Neither side of any issue should have to be the only one expected to move his fence to accommodate the other. For too many, the boundaries of truth are hopelessly cemented in the ground.