A long time ago, when we turned on the television, the things that amused us were genuinely funny situations – a touch of slapstick, an embarassing moment, a truly witty comeback.
But when did we start to change? Turn into the darker culture we are today?
Was it in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the buzzwords peace and love became synonymous with free sex and all the drugs we could ingest? Maybe it was the 1980s when, as Michael Douglas’s character put it, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”? Or how about the 1990s when television began to push the boundaries of what is normal – nudity, sexual promiscuity, coarse language, and excessive violence?
Does anyone remember a time when seeing someone else’s pain on television shocked and grieved us rather than provided us ammunition to mock, judge, or gossip? As if our lives were perfect and above reproach? As if we were in a place to judge?
What was the moment?
We have transitioned into a Now Society, an entitled society – regardless of whether or not we’ve earned it. We have a do it if it feels good philosophy about everything from politics to religion and we’re oh-so tolerant, as long as others ideals match our own. We’re critical, yet socially malleable. We created the rules, broke them, and then re-wrote them. We have placed high value on individuality, personal choice and freedom, religious autonomy, and finding our inner selves, yet we have no sense of personal responsibility and accountability for these choices. We have made it painfully clear that our ‘liberal’ way is the only way, which changes every few years as our moral and ethical winds change course.
So let’s gauge our success so far…
We have the freedom to do anything we want with our bodies (and the bodies inside us) whether it is drugs, sex, abortion, over-eating, under-eating, violence, or addiction. We have the personal freedom to choose any spiritual path we like, in fact, we are encouraged to find all of the answers of this mind-boggling universe…within.
We are offended when forces we do not comprehend, or even try to, tell us that our choices are immoral or may cause us pain in the future. We don’t want to hear about God unless we can genericize, homogenize, or simplify Him to our own personal needs, as if we could possibly change something just because there are pieces we don’t want to recognize or accept. We ignore our consciences or, better yet, deaden them with alcohol, partying, television, work, play – whatever keeps our brains occupied so that we don’t ever have to actually think about the repercussions of the choices we make. We are The New Justifiers. We don’t compare ourselves up, we compare ourselves down because it makes us feel better about ourselves. That’s our new moral compass? Have we stopped trying?
We are our own universe, we are the makers of our own eternities, and we are all we will ever need…morally and spiritually. And, as an added bonus, if we don’t get it right the first time, we’re free to come back as many times as we like until we actually get it right. No judgment and no consequences.
Consequences are reserved for those who offend us, wrong us, rock our boats, make us feel as if we have done something wrong, or make our lives “uncomfortable”. Consequences do not, should not, apply to us because we are “good people” and God knows that. And we’re certainlly better than “them”, right?
With all of the freedoms that we enjoy, personally, socially, and culturally, when we truly take stock in ourselves, are we really a happy, satisfied, better adjusted, and peaceful people? The bigger question: are we healthy? Or has our cultural laziness, gluttony, greed, narcissism, and moral slippage poisoned and deadened our sense of common decency, servitude, and goodness? Have we become anesthetized to our own shortcomings and mistakes that we simply don’t even notice anymore?
Are we, as a society, pleased with our progress?
- Are our schools teeming with educated and responsible students?
- Have we produced children who are givers and doers?
- Have we established a responsibility to take care of our generations to come?
- Do we value family above the almighty dollar?
- Do we surround ourselves with media that educates, challenges, and stimulates us in a positive way?
- Do we give back to the ministries and programs that have provided for us?
- Do we appreciate what we have?
- Do we have a healthy respect for the lives we have been given?