Sometimes the small stuff is not so small. We have become a society of largely desensitized people. How about those reality shows? Are they not people glorifying bad behavior and making millions of dollars doing it? From American Idol, to Survivor, to Jersey Shore, Americans of every age watch these shows with unbridled devotion. Are they heroes? What have they done to incur such love? Reality television cast members are the topics of blogs, fan pages, and tabloids. How many people are profiteering from the moral demise of our society? Before you raise your ire and quit reading let me state that I am no prude, nor am I impervious to the same onslaught of the media. I believe in personal responsibility and parenting. However, I find myself perusing the covers of the tabloids in the grocery store. I have switched on a reality show and watched in horrified amusement as people blatantly debase their reputation with ignorant pride and a selfish desire for attention. They make us feel better about ourselves, don’t they? Jerry Springer anyone?
Vulgarity is no longer a taboo in American society as cussing is okay in prime time. Modesty is no longer a virtue, just take a walk through Wal-Mart. Truth is second to getting ahead, visit Wall Street, Washington, or any workplace. Hey, this is America and we can do whatever we want, right? We are FREE from personal responsibility, right? Ethics have become relative and subjective. I can sue someone else for my mistake, right? It wasn’t my fault really… Freud would label this as the “Society of the Id’s.” This is a society of anything goes as long as “I” get what I want and who cares about you.
I love competition sports. I love dodge ball. I think not keeping score is dumb and harmful because everyone needs to experience and learn to deal with disappointment at an early age. Life isn’t fair, get used to it. However, I watched a basketball coach not long ago teach his players to use their elbows to do maximum damage to their opponents with the least chance of getting caught. So, if you can’t beat them with skill, cheat. Whatever it takes to win! Right? Life isn’t fair, but cheating isn’t winning.
Yes, in the scheme of things reality television, profanity, exhibitionism, selfish ambition, and poor sportsmanship taken separately are seemingly insignificant. But, what happens when a society as a whole engages regularly in all of these “small” character flaws? Why should we even worry about such small stuff when the country is engaged in two wars, the economy is on the ropes, and my favorite television show is about to start? We should worry because it is that uncaring and self-gratifying attitude that got us here in the first place. Let’s face it my fellow Americans (I implicate myself in this mess), many of us fell asleep at the wheel. Many of us cashed in integrity and our vote for a dollar (that is not worth much these days). Many of us failed to protect ourselves and those we love from our selfish desires. We failed to engage in self-control, to realize too much of a good thing is bad, and some things are just bad period. Where did it get us? Can we recover? How do we do it?
I don’t know. I look back to the Greatest Generation. I look at how they lived for family, fought for God and country, stayed married, sacrificed whatever was required to get the job done, worked hard no matter how little the pay, stayed humble, helped their neighbor, and died with their integrity. Maybe not all of them lived this way, but most of them did. They were not perfect, but they strived toward it, and their idea of perfection was not personal glory. I know what I am going to try to do. I am going to try to emulate these characteristics. I am going to try to instill these virtues in my children. We cannot go back, but we can reshape our future if we want to. We can change society if enough of us are willing to make the small changes within our own lives even if it means becoming unpopular. Change is slow and painful, but so is a broken bone when it heals. Good attitudes can multiply exponentially just like bad attitudes. I think it is time to put my soapbox away for a while, turn off the television, and gather my family for a game of pick-up baseball in the backyard. Until next time, sweat the small stuff because it is the small stuff that gives birth to the big stuff.