Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Death of a Culture

In his book "Making Choices", Peter Kreeft gives us the following data:
A survey of high school principals in 1958 asked this question:
What are the main problems among your students?

The answer was:
1. not doing homework;
2. not respecting property—e.g., throwing books;
3. leaving lights on and doors and windows open;
4. throwing spitballs in class;
5. running through the halls

The same survey question was asked a mere thirty years (one generation) later, in 1988. The answers were startlingly different. Here are the main problems of today’s high school students:
1. abortion;
2. AIDS;
3. rape;
4. drugs;
5. fear of violent death, murder, guns and knives in school.

Parents are no better off than kids. The family is falling like Humpty Dumpty, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men haven’t been able to put it back together again. And the family is the only place most people can learn life’s single most important lesson, unselfish love.
It certainly hasn't gotten any better since 1988. The difference is that these problems are now dealt with by Junior High principals in addition to High School principals. Also, you can now throw in the stunningly high use of pornography and top it all with mind-numbing internet / computer / video-game / phone use.

A culture that allows the youth to be swallowed whole will not last long.

On a related topic - at our staff retreat last month, the change in our culture was brought home by detailing the titles of some popular magazines through the years. I have built on the list we talked about.
  • 30's -  Life is published. Told stories of life through pictures.
  • 40's - Time is published. Based more on reporting stories in a cut-to-the-chase style.
  • 50's - US News and World Report (merge in 48). Used to be what the title said.
  • 60's - Cosmo transformed into a woman's mag. Since then it has transformed into trash.
  • 70's - People is published. Celebrity worship.
  • 80's - Self is published (started in 79). About what is "good" for us.
  • 90's - Entertainment Weekly published. It is time to be entertained.
  • 00's - All You as well as More published. Both are about getting more from others.
We have moved from others to ourselves at a rapid pace. Indulging our passions along the way.
I wonder - where are we headed next?

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