There was a time in this land when people worked hard, sacrificed and set things aside to make life better for the next generation. Our parents and grandparents and forefathers wanted us to have every advantage possible to live in this land of freedom with abundant opportunity. Their work ethic and frugal ways set the stage for our nation, the most prosperous in the world. They did everything possible to secure our future. They were the greatest generation.
Will we pass along those same values to our children and grandchildren? Will they enjoy a lifestyle better than we had? Will we give them a country better off than we were handed, a world more stable, resources more abundant, the opportunity to dream even bigger dreams? Or will they spend their lives paying for our excesses, mistakes, complacency, and lack of concern for their futures?
It seems that the pendulum has swung away from the values our parents and their parents once embraced. We, in turn, are saddling our kids and their children with debt. And worse, the values we are sharing with them are values of indulgence and greed, when faced with tough choices to take the easier path. We are becoming a nation of selfishness, entitlements and excessiveness.
The examples are everywhere. Look no further than our political system and money that will be spent in the upcoming elections or the fact that our government hasn’t passed a budget in three years and they certainly aren’t likely to have one this year during an election cycle. Look at the obesity rate in this country, the types of food we are eating, and the decline in the number of family farms that have disappeared across the land. The federal government is even considering new labor laws that could prohibit or seriously limit 4-H and FFA members from working on farms and doing many of the jobs that are common practice and taken for granted when you grow up on a farm. It will also affect other farm kids, such as neighbors, grandchildren, and other relatives who would not be allowed to help with many farm tasks when they come to visit or just help out on the farm. Good old fashion hard work isn’t undignified; it builds character, appreciation and self respect.
We’ve become addicted to a lifestyle we can’t afford financially or from a productivity stand point. Consider the long lines to buy the newest technology like the new iPad 3 launched last week. I doubt most of those in line didn’t already own an iPad 2 or iPhone but had to be one of the first to get the newest technology.
According to a recent survey, about 20 percent of the time we now spend in bed is spent in the company of an electronic devise. More than likely, much of that time is spent telling the world what we are doing, feeling and thinking, while reading and watching what others are thinking, doing and feeling minute by minute. I’ve nothing against social media, but where exactly is it leading us and what is it teaching us?
When you look at other social indicators like school grades, dropout rates, literacy issues, single parent households, divorce rates, the decline of religion, the proliferation of sex, the increase in violence, poverty, suicides among the young and drug usage in the U.S. now estimated to consume over 60 percent of the world’s drugs, doesn’t it seem clear that our nation has serious issues that are only getting worse? One of the major discussions going on today relates to the health coverage for women’s contraceptives. Not that many years ago, if you went and ask your parents to pay for your prophylactics, you would have been severely punished. Now we want society to pay for them as opposed to restraint and personal responsibility.
Those who came before us had it pretty tough compared to today’s standards. Much of their time was spent surviving, keeping a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, searching for food or preparing their food. As the generations progressed and technology improved, those tasks were simplified. But will that simplification lead to a better society or to a society that goes the way of many other societies that came long before and lost their way? We know that the body requires good healthy food, regular exercise and discipline to avoid things like drugs, smoking, and alcohol in order to stay fit for life. Will our current behavior lead us down a path of continued indulgence or will we recognize that some changes need to be addressed soon before they become irreversible? I think we need to see the writing on the wall soon …very soon.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.