Instant Gratification, Unrealistic Expectations

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Two blights that have settled upon Western Civilization are wanting “instant gratification” and having “unrealistic expectations.” The two may go together or separately. They are to clear thinking a definite handicap.

Because of the large number of individuals involved in, unrealistic expectations and a push for instant gratification, it has affected the policies and politicians of every social institution in American culture from families, the fundamental institution, to schools, banks and government.

The bad influence of these types of warped thinking are found at every level of our society. The effects are deleleterious and devastating. Because of the influence of these types of thinking, countless wrong decisions are made and much energy is wasted.

Jesus says in Luke 21:19, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” This is about the last thing Western Civilization plans to do. Eastern Civilization historically has been much wiser in this. Yet the new Eastern Civilization seems to be determined to ape Western Civilization in every way. That is a sad fact. So far little discrimination of mind has been shown in the many sick imitations of types of Western and American living. There is much imitation but little thinking.

What may be worse is the U.S.A. and accompanying nations rarely consider the “souls” of the nations they patronize. But it is only fair to point out Western nations rarely consider if they have souls. This is one reason the attempts of the U.S. often fail at home as well as abroad.

Looking at unreal expectations and instant gratifications, let us take marriages in the United States. The very, very large amount of failed marriages witness to unrealistic expectations plus desire for instant gratification. Have you discussed the perils of instant gratification with your children? Have you taught them to be aware of unrealistic expectations? Not only in marriage but in all the decisions of life. To do so is your Christian duty.

Remember nearly every advertisement seen is done in a manner that usually claims instant gratification from buying some commercial product. Advertisements create unreal expectations when they claim that buying their products will produce results that it is not possible to do, such as health, youth, sex appeal etc.

It is a type of brain washing that is built to trap young minds. Children watch these ads for years. It is only natural that many children apply this mode of thinking consequently to their own lives. God have mercy on the children as they grow up in a commercialized environment of false claims. Will they be normal? After spending their formative years immersed in such an environment, can they be normal?

Perhaps because the young people have been taught the joys, but not the pitfalls of instant gratification, so many are so prone to taking dope. Dope in various forms in this country has reached Medieval Plague proportions. It is said the Black Death in medieval times in Europe hit one out of every three.

Dope is to our age what drunkenness on gin was to the age of John Wesley. The use of it has become overwhelming. Much of it is not from mental illness as is usually claimed. The basis of much taking or smoking dope in various forms such as crack cocaine is unclear thinking. They have been brainwashed on instant gratification untouched by logic.

If we are to have spiritual growth among us, then we must teach each Christian child and adult to do moral analysis to be followed up by some form of action. Moral analysis of self and others is the basis of that state that constitutes “character.”

Character is only a laughed at word in today’s decadent society in the United States and Western world. The present application of character in American English is a person who is a social oddity. The meaning that has been forgotten which we now need is moral analysis and consequent action. Part of our character training should be recognizing and looking for unreal expectations and instant gratification. Life must be examined enough to spot them. Therefore we need “thinking Christians.” As far as I am able to see, there are not enough of these.

Now as far as battling against glibly unreal expectations and instant gratification in our society, I am often wished, good luck, but told that I am a “voice crying in the wilderness.” The slang translation of that comment is “It is too much to fight, forget it.”

No, I will not forget it. That is what preachers are supposed to be: a voice crying in the wilderness. I am certainly not ashamed to be following in the footsteps of as great a reformer as John the Baptist who was crying in the wilderness. (Luke 3:4) The German theologian, Barth, has written that the duty of the church is to “row against the stream.” Church members and those sympathetic to the way of Christ should be rowing against the popular stream on decisions made on the basis of unreal expectations as well as important decisions in life based only on a desire for instant gratification.

I have, as far as I know, preached the scriptures as I have to “shew you the word of the Lord,” ( Deuteronomy 5:5)


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.