Sunday, March 01, 2009

Coming home to roost!

I don't want to be the wacky guy walking around with the "THE END IS NEAR SO REPENT" sign. Yet I can't refrain from stating an obvious fact. Lately I've noticed, as I'm sure have many others, that sweeping lifestyle changes are taking place just about everywhere around us. Our fundamental core values are evolving at an alarming rate and not for the better. It's starting to have consequences that are very troubling, indeed. Signs of this change are showing up all around us and on a daily basis. There has been a virtual epidemic of so-called successful individuals that achieved positions of trust only to betray that trust for personal aggrandisement and hedonistic goals.
Yes I know that, to some extent, it has always been so but lately this phenomenon seems to have grown exponentially. No area of society has been spared. As our hard-earned savings dwindle and politicians and journalists keep telling us that everything is fine or will be fine, we cannot help thinking that it is not and never again will be. Our hearts are turning to steel and we no longer trust anyone. We have and continue to be betrayed by politicians, CEO's, financial brokers, religious leaders, professors, journalists and yes, even the local contractor who we call to fix our house or supply services.
It used to be that hard work, honesty and sacrifice were honored as virtuous ideals. On the other hand, traits like indifference, laziness, narcissism, greed, dishonesty and their resulting degradation and blight on society was considered to be shameful and thus to be avoided at all cost.
Unfortunately, not anymore.
Betrayal of the public trust has become ubiquitous and most of us are already de-sensitized to it.
Outrage when experienced on a daily basis loses its very meaning.
Many of us might point the whole blame at society's gradual abandonment of religious foundations but that's not at all the whole story. We know that secularism has been on the rise for centuries. I suspect it's more to do with today's postmodern progressive liberal ideals and a sense of moral relativism which has stealthily gained inroads into our culture. I recall a time when most responsible adults identified virtues like integrity, honesty, respect and sacrifice as extremely necessary and fundamental for good citizenship. In a general sense, the perception was that these core basic values and character traits would naturally and logically result in a happier lifestyle for their offspring. A foremost and essential instructing goal, "job one"..so to speak, for most parents was to devote the time and instill these virtues into their offspring during their formative years. Alas, it all started to unravel back in the late sixties and early seventies. In order to maintain a middle income or better lifestyle it became customary and in many cases, necessary, for both parents to be gainfully employed. The time-trusted and fundamental responsibility of child-rearing was either put on the back burner or leased out to others for the most part. Even now, many parents actually believe that our schools and child-care "professionals" have somehow fully assumed the responsibility of guiding children onto the path of good citizenship and virtuous ideals. It appears that the failure to maintain a majority of caring and responsible adults has reached and surpassed a critical mass of societal instability and no one seems to care.
Are our chickens coming home to roost?
The signs are all around us.

9 comments:

DagoodS said...

Roman,

I often see a number of terms tossed out, with the impression that by utilizing the label, the “thing” being labeled must be, by the very nature of the label itself, a bad thing.

Roman: I suspect it's more to do with today's postmodern progressive liberal ideals...

Can you tell me what ideals you are referring to, specifically? And perhaps, even more importantly, how such an ideal is “postmodern” as compared to “modern” or some other school of thought? How it is “progressive” as compared to…whatever is not progressive, I guess. (“Regressive”? “Congressive”? *grin*) Or how it is “liberal” as compared to moderate or conservative?

And why is “conservative” (for example) considered good, whereas “liberal” is considered bad? At one time, a woman choosing her own husband, rather than her father choosing one for her would have been very liberal. Yet I hope you would agree such a change, due to the change in society, was not necessarily a bad thing.

Oh, and anecdotal evidence is the worst kind, I freely admit. I would note, though, that my grandparents on my paternal side both worked (from the 20’s – retirement in the 60’s) and the grandparents on my maternal side both worked during a similar period of time, equally through their retirement.

Two parents working was not invented in the 50’s and 60’s. The difference may be that my grandparents (and parents to some extent) worked to survive. We now work to thrive more than survive.

roman said...

Hi Dagoods,

Thanks for stopping by. Hope that deck you built is holding up.
I agree that those terms, like you inferred, can mean one thing to me but quite another to someone else. I hastily bunched them all together in order to represent what I perceive is the ideal of most of the 52% of the populace that voted for our current administration along with our most distinguished house and senate "leaders". At least I think that that is the ideal that was presented and successfully sold by the DNC in both 2006 and 2008 in order to get votes for their platform. Elections are always a good time to "take the nation's pulse", so to speak, and make some inferences as to what the majority is thinking in terms of what it is that they value the most. Taken separately those terms would never fully represent or convey the same essence as intended but as presented they combine to form what I believe to be the new utopian ideal aspired to by the majority.
Postmodernism signifies a tendency toward relativism in its most broad sense. It is the abandonment of rationalism and thus, IMHO, leads to irrational decision-making and deviant behavior. As suggested, I will not go into a litany of examples from recent headlines.
As a political movement, American progressives are drawn to the idea of income redistribution and support interventionist economics. Again, no examples are necessary as one need only to read the daily headlines.
Lastly, modern liberalism and progressivism are fellow travelers in the fact that they both support many of the same policies. Surprisingly, some classic liberals are having buyer’s remorse and the start of inter-party wrangling is commencing within the Democratic Party.
You are correct to point out that the notion of both parents working was not “invented” in the 60’s as may have been construed from my poorly worded scribbling. It did, however,
grow exponentially during this time period and as such had a detrimental effect on the upbringing of a much larger number of the baby boom generation and their offspring in turn.
Ever since the French revolution and the Terrors, Edmund Burke warned against the ideological utopias that keep getting recycled on a generational basis with always the same disastrous results. What we are currently witnessing is another cycle of radical change without the slightest concern of where it will lead. As a conservative, I must caution all “keep the baby, throw out only the bathwater”.

DagoodS said...

Roman,

Yes, the deck is holding up very well, thank you.

I noticed in your response you did not identify a single ideal. Rather than rely upon non-quoted Newspaper headlines, and general references to the Democratic Party—I am looking for a specific ideal you would classify as “postmodern, progressive and liberal” and how that ideal qualifies under those headings.

Honestly, I am not certain yet I have a solid grasp of a good definition of “postmodern.” So a specific example may be helpful in that regard.

I wonder too (in a more general response to your overall point) if we tend to glorify the past. We have this mental image of the Cleaver family—pop working 9 to 5, traveling only 15 minutes to work. Mom is stay-at-home, making cookies for the kids from flour she obtained out of wheat from her own garden. Kids happily playing stickball in the street and so on.

I once asked my father (72) if he thought the past was “better.” If he wished to go back to the “Good ol’ days.” His response:

“While I do not like the moral trend—with the more open sexual themes, and greater violence in the media—I would have to admit even with that, I wouldn’t want to go back. You know, we worked hard just to survive. Dad worked at the factory in town, while Mom taught school. We all worked the farm [Ed: they had 60 head of cattle and 90 acres of fields] and canned and planted and tilled just to have enough food on the table.

“In fact, there were many nights I made my own supper that often ended up being a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of milk. For breakfast, mom would stir together flour, eggs and milk (we were on a farm, there were plenty of these items available) and make pancakes with just those ingredients. The thought of eggs and meat and toast all at one meal would have been unheard of for us. Just didn’t have it.

“When you were sick—we didn’t go to hospitals, or call on doctors. You either lived through the sickness with what remedies we scraped together—or you didn’t. We didn’t have microwaves, or television, or the internet. We passed on books from generation to generation—the library was too far away to visit on any regular basis.

“No, I wouldn’t go back.

Again, anecdotal evidence is not good evidence. I wonder, though, if you and I could time travel back to when we think things were “better” and prior to the current decline, if we wouldn’t wish ourselves right back to today.

roman said...

Dagoods,

Your repeated request for identifying specific “ideals” which may be favored by the group I described as “postmodern progressive liberals” was a little bit puzzling until I went back and re-read that sentence. Yes, I did place the word “ideals” at the end. The general thesis of my post is that this group supports the “abandonment” of traditional ideals. A few of these ideals were spelled out in the post. However, there are some political ideals that this group has a tendency to support which I probably should have included into my original post such as the following:


Affirmative action.
Open borders.
Social welfare state.
State decides who is or is not economically disadvantaged.
Sustainable development via state regulation
Previously mentioned:
Redistribution of wealth.
Economic intervention
Moral relativism to justify all the above.

From Wiki source: liberalism has removed the traditional mores that informally regulated societies, replacing them with abstract and idealistic principles which are imposed by the liberal-dominated schools, media courts and bureaucracy

Tit for Tat said...

Interesting post and very familiar sounding, all I would say to it is, "This too shall pass"

roman said...

Tit for Tat,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm humbled.

Renegade Eye said...

Postmodern stands for the end of new philosophical ideas (the end of philosophy). It coincides with what was declared the end of history and the end of ideology. It's the voice of a declining society.

Capitalism had great thinkers like Smith and Ricardo. This period doesn't even produce economists who can see a bubble burst coming.

roman said...

Hi Ren,

The word "postmodern", as I found out just recently, is a word that carries a multitude of different meanings. DagoodS was correct in pointing this out when he initiated a deconstruction of my hastily gathered description. The description did, in fact, cry out for clarification.
To me, it is a word that carries a negative connotation and signifies a way of reasoning that is no longer in tune with sound and rational thought and thus leads to faulty decision-making.
A prime example of these phenomena is the recent wave of political decisions that defy the lessons of history.
For example, the Obama administration is intent on spending our way out of this recession even though IT HAS NEVER WORKED BEFORE.
Another example is the insistence by modern anarchists to follow a course of bringing down a system of government in an abrupt manner knowing that the consequences have ALWAYS been horrible suffering by the populace and eventual failure.
No matter how many times the old adage of history "repeating itself" is heard, it nevertheless keeps getting ignored.
We, as a modern society, have risen to our current level of social and scientific sophistication by learning through trial and error to obey some basic principles of natural law and social justice. We have also seen many variations in political and economic structures come and go but yet we still keep revisiting the ones that failed many times over. The recent academic insistence upon having each new generation be free to learn a "new" way and maintain a kind of “tabula rasa” for individual expression instead of a more fine-tuned proven classical approach is just another way of ignoring the lessons of history. One would think that mistakes made by previous generations should be corrected by not following those same negative ways. Yet these solid hard-fought foundations are being questioned more and more and thus with each new generation a resulting slow erosion of same is taking place. We might conclude that we would logically expect mankind's quality of reasoning to increase with every new generation being exposed to new technical advances in communications and ready accessibility to knowledge but yet this has not proven to be the case.

Renegade Eye said...

There are stronger ways to make your argument, than bringing up postmodernism. With the ever so concrete problem of a crisis in the world economy, philosophy in the abstract is trite.

Postmodern thought involves young people more.