The State of our Society

Posted on April 26, 2009. Filed under: Responsibility | Tags: , , |

So, this blog is starting out slow, but it’s just me careening out of control. I have been thinking that I can’t wait for someone to send me a post, I will start out posting what I think about things and then try to get some interaction. So, one way I thought of doing this would be to have a book club tab, where we could read a book or even magazine article on a subject and discuss it.

This is my first post to this end. I suppose everyone has been watching what’s been going on the last year or so with the economy and reacting in various ways to the housing crisis, the bailouts, the car industry caving, the stock market plummeting, Madoff making off with billions of dollars, politicians passing laws that made for unsound financial policies, financial institutions going crazy and making a run for the money with every absurd risk imaginable, people all over society buying into these crazy schemes without considering the risks or even the responsibilities.

The house of cards is being blown away. All of these things really have been building up for decades. I know 17 years ago when I went to buy a house, you could get a loan for something you couldn’t afford. The level of consumerism and materialism in this country has seemed frenetic and out of control for a very long time to me. One day about 5 years ago I went looking for some sippy cups for my kids. I went to a baby outlet, and there was a whole wall of choices. There were like 12 different sippy cup options and just as many pacifier options and lets not mention the bottles, I think some of them could fly. I just looked at that wall and I was flabbergasted. Who in the heck buys all these things? Do we really need this much stuff? How much of this just ends up in landfills? How much of our hard earned money do we waste on this stuff we don’t even need or get any satisfaction from? And I didn’t even find a sippy cup that would stack and have a truly tamper proof, leak proof lid like I wanted. I just walked away.

Do you know what is one of the things that I find most disturbing of all? All the talk about what a problem it is that consumers are not spending and that more people are saving. If that is a problem for out economy, then we already had a big problem to begin with! It is healthy to save and to not spend like you are on an episode of Supermarket Sweep. So, I think NOW would be an excellent time, as we look at building up our economy that we think of building a more balanced economy based on something more than making mindless stuff and buying it all. Why is it that we have a society that doesn’t pay anywhere near what it’s worth to teachers, policemen, social workers, researchers, and things that could improve the world. Why do we spend billions more on spectator sports and movies? Everyone from the child just beginning to think, to the people on Capitol Hill need to spend some time pondering things like this. As for products and services, and technology, lets think of what the world really needs and can use the most, and lets start building up those things. Let’s come up with better products, not more products.

Another thing I wondered all through the housing boom was similar. Aren’t we eventually going to have too many houses? I mean, like there are only so many people to live in them, so any dumb housewife could have told you the bubble was going to burst on that one. Especially when loans were getting crazier and crazier and riskier and riskier, going to people who had less and less a capacity to keep up with the mortgage. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that any intelligent person had to know that a lot of what we were doing was unsustainable. They just didn’t care. They could make a whopping amount of money on it now, and so what would happen later or how it would effect themselves let alone others didn’t really matter to most of us. That is probably the biggest problem of all, so that’s where I want to start.

I know that all these events have put a lot of people into terrible situations and they didn’t necessarily deserve it. Many people who have tried to live responsible lives are paying for this along with those that didn’t. It may be frustrating, but it does us no good to waste a lot of time in anger and finger pointing. As a society, we all failed. There wasn’t a big outcry to stop the madness when bad laws were being passed and bad practices were blooming like mushrooms all over the place. Most of us weren’t even aware or were too busy to protest, but that is a big problem too. We need to increase our awareness and our avenues of speaking out and fighting for change so that more good people can come together and make a difference. But even deeper still, our society needs to take a good hard look at some facts.

1. You really can’t get something for nothing or not much. A price will be paid sooner or later.

2. Everything we do affects not just ourselves but everybody else. The effects of the bad choices of even just one individual have had repercussions all around the globe. Unfortunately, not good ones.

3. It needs to matter to us what the consecuences of our actions are on our future and society as a whole.

What is lacking here people, is good old fashioned values and ethics. We are not stepping up to the challenge of being an ethical society, and if we would rather not implode, we need to do something about it. This may seem huge, but luckily, we don’t even need to start with laws or politics. Moms all over this country can start raising the ethical politicians and bankers and manufacturers and consumers of the future. We can find ways to spread the word and get a movement going all over this country and the globe. We can start a more ethical society now, because it starts with the individual. To this end, I propose the very first book club reading. The book is called Moral Courage  by Rushworth M. Kidder. Go to your local library and check it out, or go to your favorite bookstore, online or in town, and get a copy.  Read it, comment on it.  Tell me what ideas you get from it.  How can you improve your own ethics, as well as train others to improve on theirs?  I hope to read and post a review on this and then add my own comments.    I’ll keep this up as our book club book for the month of May, so get your copy and start reading.  Hope to hear your comments soon.

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