Thursday, April 12, 2007

Breaking the Social Contract

Part of what has kept our nation together is a shared vision of what is acceptable and unacceptable within our society. For a long time there were social taboos such as cursing, nudity and such that were not part of the fabric of everyday life. There was this mutual agreement between total strangers that such things weren't part of what our society considered "normal". Fast forward to today and you find that even the word "normal" is seen as suspicious and even derogatory. At what point did we as a group decide to allow our society to be co-opted by the seamy underbelly of life? I recall refusing to let my elementary aged children access to The Simpsons. Their friends made sure that they felt left out and backward, but in truth, I have never thought that The Simpsons, no matter how funny, were meant as a show for kids. Similar words and concepts that would never have been mentioned in polite society are now part of everyday conversation. I really can't believe that everyone is comfortable with this. I still squirm when I watch some shows and my now 18 and 21 year old sons are in the room. It's not a false sense of modesty, instead it's sense that there are some things that the average person doesn't need to make public. I personally don't give a damn about what people do in their private lives so long as it doesn't impact me or my family. Marry a hamster for all I care, but dont' tell me the gory details of the wedding night.

The social contract goes beyond matters of taste. Just the idea that we all stop at a four way stop sign is something based on mutual trust. But do you really trust that stranger across the road? More and more the answer should probably be no, because red lights, speed and roadrage are all acceptable behavior in our shredded social fabric. Even those things that are against the law have armies of apologists waiting to make nice when someone drives under the influence and kills someone else's kid. This is one of the big reasons I would never support legalization of pot-we already have parents willing to buy their kids' popularity with an unsupervised house and a keg of beer, I can't even imagine the carnage if kid start getting into their parents stash. And what about the way that children and infants are seen more as money sources than as people. Just this week a nine month old was killed when his psycho mom stole an SUV on a test drive and got into a police chase. The baby was lying in the front seat when the Mom flipped the car. Other mothers keep quiet when their live in boyfriends or sometimes husbands abuse their kids physically, mentally and sexually. And the mothers stand by and watch. Are we so desperate to fit into this illusion of life that we sacrifice innocents? Where is the outrage in the community, because this is far more devastating than any remote racism or perceived slight? Where are the protests over stupid mothers that sacrifice their kids? And when did it become okay to do anything you please? Are we a nation of three year olds, incapable of deferring our pleasures for even a moment? We seem to need to be tied into a web of communication and honestly, I don't think anyone is really saying anything important. That's probably a good thing, because I dont' think anyone is really listening.

All of these precedents are filtering down to our kids. While their are great kids out there, there are also kid who think the Bill of Rights includes a new car on your sixteenth birthday. Some kids think that school and work and anything else is only worth as much as it gives you pleasure or money. They are becoming shallow and vain and very very spoiled. And this isn't just the rich kids, but all of the kids. Their parents either simply do not pay attention to them and shove money instead OR they are too busy trying to be their buddies. This isn't the way to build a nation. We need some rules. And some shared values. And some serious talk about deferring immediate gratification for higher, bigger and better life goals. We need to do this soon or we are going to end up with kids that live their lives as if they are on a reality show=except nobody is there to rescue you if you fall.

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