In my previous attempt at this post I wrote about people who will participate in research studies, say they will do something and then not follow through with their commitment. Yes, this is a huge inconvenience for me as a researcher, but I think it extends well beyond that. One of the major problems the world faces is the lack of integrity that is developing. If you give someone your word, it should mean something, in fact, it should mean a lot. I recognize that stuff arises and you have to alter previously made plans and that's fine, but 99.9% of the time if you make a commitment to do something you either need to do it, or not agree to do it in the first place. There's a word that we can put to this problem, lack of integrity.
It goes well beyond that though. Previously, I posted about social capital and how people tend to be isolating themselves. Dr. Putnam wrote a book entitled "Bowling Alone" (I hope to read it someday), that talks about the movement from bowling leagues to a culture where we are bowling alone. There seems to be a movement away from groups and toward individual interest. Of course bowling leagues are only one example. As I walk around campus I see this everywhere. When I attended this University as an undergraduate I could leave a class, find myself walking next to a stranger and start a conversation. I could gain some social capital and meet a new person. Today on my walk to stats class I could probably count one hand the number of people who weren't talking on a cell phone, listening to an i-pod or talking with friends they already had. Cell phones, i-pods and friends aren't bad things, but they prevent me from talking with new people because people tend to stick with the familiar or isolate themselves. OK, I'll stick another word onto what I think is contributing to the ills of the world...isolation.
One of the huge ills of the world is the Jones family. Everyone is trying to keep up with them and we have to have more. The country seems to be moving toward recycling, which is a good thing... sort of. I think the recycling program had three parts (you know the symbol with the three arrows going in a triangle): reduce, reuse recycle. Recycling is good, but reducing (not buying the junk in the first place) and reusing (opposed to replacing) are far better. Wal-mart is trying hard to make a "green" impression (and I am impressed with some of their efforts), but they really wouldn't like it if people really started following the other two parts of the recycling program. Our country is driven by consumption and I think it's leading us in the wrong way. Consumerism, that's another word that explains the ills of the country.
I have a lot more ideas, but I'm afraid that only two people are still reading at this point, so I'm going to conclude. I think the common denominator of all those things is selfishness to some degree. I don't keep my word because I can do better things with my time. I don't talk with new people because I like my friends. I don't share rides or tools because I need my own for my convenience. I don't think that we should go back to the dark ages, but maybe we should take a step back to pre-school when we learned to share.
Thank you Norm for having the nerve to not put up with mediocre writing. I hope this better explains the ills of the world. I realize that it differs greatly from the last time I attempted to write on this topic. That is because it wasn't thought through enough. This is what I really meant. Most of the ills of the world are centered around selfishness in some way or another.