By Dale Glading
That phrase, abbreviated KISS, was coined by Kelly Johnson, a lead engineer with Lockheed, and later adopted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. It has since become part of the American lexicon, especially in the worlds of business and politics.
The KISS principle is built on the belief that most operating systems work best when they are kept simple. Therefore, it follows that simplicity should be a key design goal and unnecessary complexity should be avoided at all costs.
I started thinking about the KISS principle last week when I read about a Gallup Poll that measured the “happiness quotient” in various countries. One would think that the U.S. – with all of our freedoms and affluence – would come in first. Or maybe one of the Scandinavian countries so touted by the liberals as socialist utopias.
Wrong! According to the Positive Experience Index, the world’s happiest people live in Paraguay. Yes, Paraguay, a dirt poor South American nation where 30% of the people live in abject poverty. Instead of measuring economic productivity, the index scored people’s responses to questions such as “Did you feel well-rested yesterday?”; “Did you smile or laugh a lot?”; and “Did you learn or do something interesting?”
Apparently, the key to the Paraguayans’ contentment was a simple lifestyle that revolved around family relationships. Hmmm…makes sense to me. My family and my faith are what makes me happy. Maybe I should move to Paraguay – or Kenya, where I encountered nothing but smiling faces when I conducted a prison ministry trip there in 2014. No electricity, no running water, no air conditioning, no problem.
And so, in an effort to increase the happiness quotient of my fellow Americans, I came up with a short list of ways to simplify life here in the good ol’ USA.
1. Stop trying to erase or re-invent American history. Accept the fact that Christopher Columbus may have had mixed motives for discovering the New World and that some of our brilliant but imperfect Founding Fathers owned slaves while fighting for our independence. And yes, that Kate Smith once recorded a song with racist lyrics while simultaneously raising more than $600 million in war bonds to defeat Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Learn from our mistakes as a nation, vow never to repeat them, and move on. And while you’re at it, stop judging people from 80, or 180, or 280 years ago by today’s standards… lest you be judged – and found wanting – by those who come after you.
2. In accordance with the KISS principle, let’s go back to defining a person’s sex by his or her anatomy and DNA. Forget about having 120 different gender identities. Just settle on two.
3. Another solid and well-proven business principle is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So, since capitalism has helped elevate living conditions in America for more than 240 years – making us the richest nation in the history of the world – why not keep it? Considering the fact that socialism has failed miserably everywhere it’s been tried, it’s really not a close call.
4. Contrary to what the historical revisionists would have us believe, our government – as well as our educational system – were founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Not so coincidentally, when we decided to kick God out of the classroom and banish Him (yes, I said Him) from the public square, our society started going to “hell in a handbasket” in record time.
Marriages crumbled, divorce and delinquency rates soared, drug abuse ran rampant, prisons overflowed, and student test scores sank to all-time lows. I wonder if the secularists who got their way are happy now?
And even if they are, why not return to the days before morality became so “relative”? I, for one, would love to see God and His Word welcomed back into our schools and government institutions. Even a cursory reading of today’s news headlines would lead most people to agree that it certainly can’t hurt.
5. Remember the antiquated term, the “nuclear family”? It was supposed to represent the ideal American home with (one) dad, who often served as the chief breadwinner; (one) mom, who was the primary caregiver; and Johnny and Suzie who respected their parents, teachers, coaches and other authority figures. I understand that times change and that going back to the days of black and white TV isn’t the answer. But I still think we all could learn something from Robert Young and Father Knows Best.
There’s a lot more I could say about how to improve Americans’ happiness quotient by simplifying things, but then I would be violating my own advice by over-complicating matters.
Dale Glading is an ordained minister and former New Jerrsey Republican candidate for Congress.