Monday, January 17, 2011

American values have been declining and continue to decline

American values have been declining and continue to decline
As entertainers, corporations, and even the government pander to the lowest common denominator, American life becomes increasingly vicarious, prefabricated, and bereft of meaning. Let us examines contemporary American consciousness, considering the factors that have driven society toward gossip and sensationalism at the cost of substance and depth.
Celebrity news, video games, cookie-cutter schools, and shopping, shopping, shopping.
We should be concerned with the growing epidemic of acrimony, superficiality, attention deficit disorder, and complaints of ennui. We should ask for the reasons why American children have expressed their confused rage with deadly weapons, why a president boasts that he earned Cs in college, and why society has drifted into craving entertainment laced with violence and cheap thrills. This is a provocative subject for concerned citizens, as well as for scholars and researchers involved with contemporary American culture and society.
A lot of deep thinkers believe that Americans have come loose from their moral underpinnings, and that our basic institutions - government, neighborhoods, civic associations, schools, and, most important, our families - are coming apart as a result.
Where on earth do these social scientists get the idea that things are going so wrong?
Well, in large part they get it from listening to Americans, 87 percent of whom in one recent poll said they fear there is something fundamentally wrong with America’s moral condition.
And this is no short-term blip triggered by President Clinton’s extramarital adventures. According to Daniel Yankelovich, an icon of American public opinion polling, huge majorities of Americans have for some time believed that the nation is ``in a long-term moral decline.”
A widely held belief has emerged that this decline threatens democracy itself, since freedom without morality quickly deteriorates into a society filled with violence and perversion, which increasingly seems to be what we have.
The Civil Renewal council’s Call, called for making divorces harder to get, giving benefits to parents who stay home with their children, making it easier for ``faith-based” organizations to provide social services, allowing tax credits for donations to social service agencies, ending state-sponsored gambling, providing more education about the arts and more choices for parents in selecting schools, not to mention curtailing sex and violence on television.
There’s much in what he says. The Call’s argument that freedom without morality inevitably becomes merely the liberty to perpetrate evil is complex and subtle.
America was losing ``the habits of the heart” that once protected the nation against the wretched excesses democracy might normally entail, such as the atomization of society into hedonistic individualism, or the tyranny of the majorities.
Our contention that today we may be forgetting those protective habits fits a lot of available evidence of civic and social decline, such as the drop in voter participation, the rise in divorce, and the surge in youth violence.
Overall, we found that Americans were doing less of just about everything together, and were, quite possibly as a result, becoming more distrustful of their government - and one another.
Former Judge Robert Bork takes perhaps the darkest view in Slouching Toward Gomorrah, contending that America’s slide into the moral abyss is probably irreversible, and questioning the optimistic premise about the basic goodness of human beings on which the nation was founded.
All the indicators of social health continued to decline. I looked back and saw that they had been declining for thirty years or more, no matter what the economy was doing or who was president.
YJ Draiman
American values have been declining and continue to decline

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