This spring marked the 19th anniversary of my graduation from college (University of Delaware BA 1989) and 24th since high school (Toms River South 1986) - and in some of my free time I've spent reflecting where I have come from, where I am at and where am I heading (in both individual terms, family terms and societal terms).
So here is the residue of my thoughts - US society and culture today lacks something that has been a game-changer throughout history. Now when I say a "game changer" I mean in both positive and negative ways. So what is it that we lack -at least on a scale large enough for us to get of our collective rear ends and do something?
We lack contempt. According to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contempt) contempt is
1: the act of despising : the state of mind of one who despises : disdain b: lack of respect or reverence for something2: the state of being despised3: willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body <contempt of court>.
Didn't colonists in the 1770s have contempt for the British Crown and its proxies? Didn't the Union and Confederacy have contempt for each other's points of view in the 1860s (civil war)? Was there not contempt between Western Europe and Germany in both wars? Contempt existed between Japan and its imperialistic foes in the 1930s & early 1940s. Atomic bombs do not get dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki without contempt. Al Qaeda defines contempt in their vicious attacks in the 1990s and on 9/11/2001.
In words, written down, this all seems pretty obvious. But, in a moment of self-reflection as we stare down an age of "political correctness" perhaps one of the burning motivators of human beings (contempt) has been watered down and eradicated. Perhaps it has resulted in turning human beings into sheep.
There is a dark side to contempt (racism/genocide/war), but is there a darker side to political and societal impotence?