Who Made This Mess? An Unscientific Poll Regarding Ills of American Society

No news is good news, as goes the old adage. Just watch the news reports for a few nights, and you will see the wisdom in this statement. We even can play around with an  alternative meanings, such as, “the only good news is when there is no news; all news is about bad news”.

Reflecting on the above conundrum, I wondered how society, or perhaps my interpretation of the slanted presentation of society on the news, arrived at this point. Specifically, I considered the obvious –  breakdown of the family unit and good role models, but what else? I can become pretty bored with my own answers, so I decided to ask some other folks for their opinions. As you will see, there is some overlap. 

I owe many thanks to the people who answered my invasion into their already overloaded and occupied gray matter. When trying to come up with a provocative, interest-grabbing title, I remembered an experience I had while babysitting my (then) little grandniece, Chelsea. It was time for bed and Chelsea obviously was tired – even volunteering to go to bed! I walked upstairs with her to the bedroom. There had been a family celebration, earlier, and lots of happy children were running in and out of her room. Apparently, all at the very same time, resulting in what looked like the effects of an EF3 tornado in the room. Very seriously, she looked straight into my surprised eyes and asked, “Did YOU make this mess?” Truly, I hadn’t been in the room before that very moment. I truthfully denied I had, but then volunteered to help her clean up. It took only a few minutes and everything was put in its rightful place, once again.

These results are purely non-random and are heavily influenced by my own family and social circle. In other words, this was not a scientific study. Most of my family and friends are Christians and incomes range from upper lower to upper middle class. I attempted to reach out to a few younger adults in the age range of 20-25, but nearly all did not reply. I hope that’s neither indicative of hopelessness in their future, nor an unwillingness to consider such serious questions and expend the energy. 

The answers received, so far, all reflect a very common thread. I suspect other social and/or religious groups may come up with similar answers. Because every one of us struggles with that international brother/sisterhood, called humanity. I have listed the answers here, in reverse order of commonality:

Overindulgence in forms of overeating and overspending. Might this be a reflection of our individual selfishness? Overindulge enough times, and we lose control and become addicts. This can pertain to food and money, as well as many other things, such as television, video games, social networking, alcohol and drug abuse, and sex. Obsessions know many forms.

National prejudice and dishonest government practices. My dear friend, born and raised in a Middle Eastern country, made this startling, yet easily confirmed, observation:  Americans want everyone, everywhere, to model themselves after Americans, regardless of the history and culture of other nations. It is a newsflash only to the most severely delusional bigots that Americans are not perfect, either. And our government has many sins and much blood on its hands. I love my Country, meaning my countrymen and women. But I know my government has far too many greedy members who use Congress only as a network to line their pockets. There hasn’t been an American administration in my lifetime that eventually has not  been called out for shady economic dealings of one sort or another, both foreign and domestically speaking. Interestingly, another foreign-born gentleman was asked why he decided to become an American citizen in his mature years. His answer, “Because with all the problems, this still is the best country in the world, as far as opportunity.” I do hope, someday, that opportunity is extended to more and more who have lost their jobs for no other reason than economic selfishness, and that folks will stop being made poverty-stricken by industrialists who have no problem un-employing thousands because they can turn to the almighty machine. It’s a bit puzzling to me – machines do not buy any goods, after all. Where are the economic checks and balances? The Wall Street debacle certainly appears to prove the need of them.

Below, is an interesting and heartbreaking documentary for your perusal, if you wish. Kudos to the producers, who are amateurs, but put forth quite a professional effort! Please pay very close attention to the restaurant/bar owner statements at the very end.  http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/filmmakers-heidi-ewing-and-rachel-grady-on-capturing-detroit

Earnings disparity between wealthy and non-wealthy. Simply put, this is the effect of the earlier paragraph assertions and is represented by the old cliché, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” These days, it has taken on new breath along the lines of, “The 2% rules over the 98%.” This pertains to unfair business practice, not socialism or communism. This is economic injustice.

Lack of taking responsibility for actions. I think the simplest example of this occurs when we’re in school. If a student doesn’t attend class, or doesn’t pay attention when actually there, it is quite natural that this lack of responsibility will be reflected in the grade. No one really believes “The teacher doesn’t like me.”  I wonder if parents and teachers rank that one right up there with “The dog ate my homework?” Irresponsibility cannot manufacture success out of thin air. Work is the four-letter synonym for success. My favorite teacher used to say, “Success is 90% working and 10% wishing.”

Unearned sense of entitlement. All human beings have basic entitlements due them, such as a degree of respect and common courtesy, and an expectation of safety from violence. Taxpayers have certain entitlements, included in the laws of community. It was surprising to see that several responders mentioned an exaggerated sense of entitlement.  Could greed, laziness or lack of self-discipline be factors? Synonyms for entitlement, listed in the thesaurus, include such eye-openers as birthright, clout, command, force, power and kingship.

Lack of values/morals. Disrespect to God and parents. This, far and away, was the most common answer people gave, regardless of generational age or socioeconomic levels. The principles of love, humility, honesty, caring and integrity are plainly outlined in most spiritual people’s Scripture. How does this happen to a nation whose founding premise was “freedom of religion?” Of course, those Pilgrims (Puritans) who came for religious freedom immediately started enacting what they viewed as “correct” religious freedom. Down the road, this creeping religious prejudice led to the infamous Salem witch hunts, beginning in 1692. Totally innocent people murdered because the “religious” majority deemed it required of God. The very persecution from which their parents and/or grandparents claimed to flee, was re-enacted in the New World. This was bullying, plain and simple. And using God’s name to justify it…to themselves. This dangerous pseudo-social mindset evolved into the likes of, “If you really want to be sure that God is on your side, you must belong to my church/synagogue/mosque/etc.” I would suggest that only the Almighty and All-Knowing Judge can execute spiritual judgment. We may judge only ourselves, in that spiritual sense. Lest we think that atheists are exempt, I have read many a social networking/Internet conversation where there has been name-calling and derision on both sides. This lack of a true and personal moral compass results in disrespect toward one another, especially if there are any perceived differences – and to the point that some type of legislation must be enacted to remind us of that Golden Rule. Can we not choose to behave kindly and respectfully without the threat of punishment? Whatever our beliefs, to have them in a Higher Power, or not; in our selfishness, we have proclaimed that WE are right and all OTHERS are wrong. Us vs Them. Of course, them is always wrong and us is always right. We have misrepresented common decency, at the least, and the Name and Character of God, at most.

We all are so human! Thus, we make mistakes. Humanity and mistakes – the two inescapable things that bind every single person ever born or who will be born.

Sometimes, a tomato plant will spring up among the green beans. The farmer may not have sown it there, but there it finds itself. It is not always for the green beans to try to turn tomatoes into green beans. At times, it is for green beans to learn a little more about the wonderfulness of tomatoes! Left apart from learned bigotry, both can grow together and be productive.

Summation:  Human beings constantly are faced with choices. Every day, we struggle with those decisions of choice. Just exactly which morals and values are we teaching our children to emulate? Kind/unkind; honest/dishonest; dependable/undependable, and selflessness/selfishness. 

Society, and our impact on it, is like that little pebble thrown into the big pond. The ripples spread out. It is made up of individuals and their behaviors. We experience society in family, friends, work, politics, worship, communities, nation, and increasingly, globally. It seems our actions, and our social environments, are intertwined and depend upon:  those all-important choices.

Yes, Chelsea (socially speaking) we, indeed, made this mess. We have no idea how long it will take to clean it up, but we must – for our own survival (and those to follow us). Could you ever forgive us?

The old comic strip character, Pogo, placed a twist on the words of Admiral Perry when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”


~ by saginawrobin on June 17, 2013.

One Response to “Who Made This Mess? An Unscientific Poll Regarding Ills of American Society”

  1. Reblogged this on robintessier.

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