My work as a fire captain requires my folks to work as a team. We go in as a team and we come out as one. Nobody leaves anyone behind. We watch each other’s backs. Sometimes we even put our lives on the line for someone we don’t even know. That is drilled into us from day one. Can I say the same about our society as a whole?
In the last 100 years American society has advanced the idea of “rugged individualism, self-concept, being unique, do-it-yourself, me first” to new heights. In the process we have lost something vital. I’ve heard it termed the “atomization” of our society. Satan loves that. It’s not about responsibility, it’s about “self” thinking.
That process inevitably makes us less attuned to the moral values that shaped us as a country. A hundred years ago, if you needed to build a barn, people you didn’t even know would come out to help you raise the roof or whatever you needed. The social fabric was intact and its moral values were clear. Now, we often live in impersonal communities where we don’t even know who our neighbors are or ever speak to them, let alone value their needs and problems as much as our own. Today, we expect government to teach and enforce values and to provide for needs. That simply doesn’t work very well when the society as a whole is increasingly uncommitted to those values
I’m not advocating a purely communal viewpoint here, after all there is an element of responsibility that everyone must take for their lives. We strive to prepare and care for ourselves, and that remains important. However, the moral relativism when a purely self-oriented lifestyle takes over is a wholly different matter.
If you don’t think there is an atomizing or fragmenting of our collective and communal nature and morality, then tell me, when was the last time you said hello to every stranger you walked by on the street or even went out of your way to give them all a smile? Did you just look away? When was the last time you came along side someone and said "let me help you" at a personal cost to you? I know I often insulate myself that way, and it makes me think hard on it.
How about you?