I remember, years before the Iron Curtain fell, being absolutely fascinated with the kids from Soviet...or Soviet bloc countries...who competed in the Olympics. They were so talented, so focused, so disciplined. So unreal. I used to think that if you scratched them, they wouldn't bleed. They'd spark. That was because they had everything taken care of for them by Father State. They didn't need to think, or sweat, or choose.
Watching Nadia Comaneci score a perfect 10 was troubling. Here was a 16 year old girl, my own exact age, who'd just redefined perfection in her field, and her face betrayed nothing. Even her hug with her coach (now HE was an emotional guy) seemed almost perfunctory. This, I thought, is what happens when your life is planned for you. When the social safety net becomes all-encompassing, it strangles the independent soul. I had that same feeling again when I read President Obama's new campaign ad, The Life of Julia. As much of a pampered automaton as Nadia, Julia has her life taken care of from reproductively-independent womb to environmentally-friendly tomb.
Some people think it's wonderful that the government wants to cover us with affectionate (and taxpayer-funded) concern from our earliest moments, to our final breath.
I don't. When you give us everything, you deprive us of the desire and ability to earn those most important things. Like self-respect.
And not even an Olympic Gold Medal is worth that.