Friday, November 24, 2006

What is Happening to our Society?

Jewish World Review has two columns in this weekend's edition decrying what our society and culture have become. One is Cal Thomas' "Crossed What Line?" and the other is Greg Crosby's "Not My World."

I, too, would like to know where civility, modesty, and other virtues have gone? And why, as Cal Thomas says,
Many other parents have been very concerned but, as they expressed themselves individually and through various advocacy groups over the years, they were told not to interfere with "artistic expression." When they persisted, they were disparaged as censors and bigots who were attempting to impose their morality on the country (as opposed to networks imposing their immorality on the country). And yet the crudities, lack of modesty and self-restraint on TV have been major contributors to antisocial behavior and loss of respect for women and almost everything else. The debate continues over whether TV violence encourages real violence, but TV violence certainly doesn't help.

Why is it that people who try to maintain some standards of morality, modesty, and civility are shouted down? Do some people really think that an "anything goes" society is a good thing? Perhaps they do until it is their own children who are seduced into a life of gangs, drugs, sex, and violence--until it is their own marriages that are damaged, sometimes beyond repair, by adultery, pornography, and other evils of our day.

I do not understand why "entertainment" such as movies, novels, and video games feel that 4-letter words, premarital or extra-marital sex, violence, substance abuse, and so forth are not only acceptable, but necessary? Sure, there are some people who want that sort of thing, but don't most people have some standards? Do they think they have to put up with vulgarity and immorality if they want any entertainment? Why?

In talking about clothing, Greg Crosby writes,
I don't get the clothes that most people are wearing today. Why would a woman want to wear garments that accentuate her fat stomach? Why would a mature man want to look like a five-year old boy? I never got the baseball hat thing and now it has been a staple in wearing apparel with adults for more than twenty-five years. You look at old photos in books and magazines, you watch classic movies, and people are dressed so well. Why don't people want to look nice anymore? They purposely dress down and I suppose the idea is to look as dirty and unkempt as they can. Why do middle class upwardly mobile folks want to look like prison convicts, gang members, and the homeless? I just don't get it.

I don't get it, either. And it isn't just clothing--it's manners and language and general good taste. Is it because people have learned to be lazy and it is easier to not impose standards and restraints on themselves and their children? Has our society become so "dumbed down" in every area that people just follow along with whatever is popular at the moment, whether it is fashion or entertainment or politics?

It is a sad state of affairs that we are in today. People want to wear jeans and t-shirts to church and work and everywhere else, regardless of whether the place they are going deserves some respect. They want to use bad grammar and vulgarity no matter where they are or who they are talking to. They want to not bother to learn to spell or know facts or understand math and science. This is in part due to the influence of our public school system, where making the kids feel good seems to trump all, and academic culture at our universities. It is in part due to the poor example set by the so-called adults in our society. What I don't understand is why individuals, among whom there are surely many who would like to see a return of standards and values and morality, don't set good examples themselves and teach their children better. Are we really that afraid of the criticism we might (probably will) receive?

What should we do to stop our society's downward descent? How can we reverse the trends and again have a civilized society?



At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your post. I am just speculating but it seems like our work schedule and hectic personal life contribute to our sloppy appearances. When the only adults who dress properly are movie stars with million dollar budgets, it's probably understandable that kids now associate dressing well with expense.



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