Monday, November 07, 2005


What kind of society would you like to see, positively? It’s a thought-provoking question posed by someone who was commenting on my blog and saw that criticism outweighed constructive suggestions. So taking up this challenge, allow me to outline my vision of that shining city set on a hill.

First and foremost, I yearn for a country where the mavens of mass communication take their social responsibility seriously—where music makers, television big wigs, and movie moguls treat their product as they would if they lived among the families that consume their offerings. The depravity that characterizes productions distributed to anonymous consumers could not withstand the shame that would accompany daily encounters with mothers, fathers, and kids who live across the street.

I dream of a nation where integrity is honored more than celebrity—a land where commencement addresses are given overwhelmingly by individuals of exceptional character, not by entertainers who lack significant moral or intellectual credentials.

I wish for a society where scandal and notoriety are shameful burdens, not precursors to a profitable book deal. I seek a society where kindness and duty are habitually emphasized —where respect is an attitude earned based on exemplary behavior, not a cocky demand for deference rooted in physical intimidation.

I long for a community that exhibits profound gratitude for its blessings and that realizes its vast bounty rests on an inherited foundation of discipline and religious conviction—a country that knows its greatest challenges arise from frenetic acquisitiveness and a lust for power, not the much-proclaimed scarcity of resources.

I wish for an America where thankfulness is an attitude more deeply engrained than a sense of entitlement—a land where “thank you” replaces “where’s mine” as the base line of popular sentiment. And I wish for governments whose size and priorities mirror this attitude of self-reliance and gratitude.

I long for a country that cherishes visual and aural beauty—that embraces silence and meditation as food for the spirit. I long for an environment that nourishes the better angels of our nature rather than constantly feeding the monsters of rebellion and instant gratification.

I seek a society where sex isn’t a recreational sport—where the union of two people means the union of spirits under a canopy of sacredness. I yearn for the day when children aren’t reduced to inconvenient burdens—a day when “the best interests of the child” is the parental norm, not a vacuous legal phrase.

I wish for a nation in which taking responsibility is the presumptive attitude—a nation where blaming parents and society for failure is a proposition greeted with suspicion. And I wish for leaders who embrace the idea that diligence will be rewarded and who reject the enervating idea that malevolent political forces make personal virtue pointless.

I long for a country where the mantra “Graduate, work, marry” replaces the clichéd and self-defeating chants of victim groups.

I wish for news professionals who treat their task as a public trust—who prize perspective over sensationalism. I seek journalists who present information with dignity—not like disaster-hawking carnival barkers.

I look for schools where teachers can enforce meaningful standards of dress and deportment without legal hectoring—standards that mirror those promulgated at home.

I wish for a public square that honors the religious parts of our heritage alongside ideas that originate from other sources.

I long for a country where childhood innocence is protected and vile language is viewed as a sign of degeneracy. I seek a nation where gangsta rap has become a risible musical genre.

I want a video lineup where Jack Paar is the late-night norm, not Leno or Letterman.

I want a land where parents and media moguls are largely on the same page—both emphasizing the importance of courage, moral integrity, and temperance.

I long for a society where “We stand on the shoulders of giants” is again a common aphorism—a society where character counts for more than fashion and where wisdom is honored more than pushing the envelope.

I want to live in a community where free expression doesn’t mean being vulgar with impunity and where free speech actually contributes to the state of the union.

I wish to live in a country where benevolence trumps cynicism, where family devotion minimizes alienation, and where inner peace outweighs the restless pursuit of fame and fortune.

Note that my terms are not absolutist. I do not look for a utopia—a world where poverty, isolation, pain, and obscenity are abolished. I seek, instead, a society that does more good than harm—a community that, on the whole, lifts us up instead of dragging us down.

Unfortunately, I do not see the will or the insight among the people or their leaders that would permit much progress toward these goals. Inertia from the mindless pursuit of power and sensual pleasure and wealth continues to push us toward the precipice. If I had to bet, I’d put my chips on the latter scenario.


Anonymous said...

That's great Richard. Thank's for taking the time to explain your vision.

Much appreciated.


P.S. This is fairly thought provoking and creative. Please take a look when you have a chance-

RKirk said...

Thanks for your comment. I don't see how the internet site you referred to is thought-provoking. The term "puerile" seems much more accurate--the kind of thing that appeals to folks who don't have the will or ability to discuss issues seriously or to listen to contrary opinions. Policy is NOT THAT EASY. That's one thing I know for sure. Another is that EASY SOLUTIONS are frequently disastrous. Giving benefits to persons who are unmarried and who have children had the unintended result of subsidizing irresponsible behavior. Building huge units of cheap housing for the poor had the effect of creating inhuman ghettoes filled with sociopaths. EASY SOLUTIONS contributed immensely to the destruction of the black family--where 70% of all children are now born out of wedlock. When one is willing to SERIOUSLY explain why that is the case, I'm also willing to talk to that person.

Anonymous said...

Be nice Kirk. The previous post was humorous, one can at least admit that.

Buy Nothing Day is just around the corner, the anti black friday as it were. I think you would appreciate it for it's anti materialistic message but you might not like it for it's very left wing leanings. Google it and let the blogosphere know your thoughts on this quasi civil disobediance movement.

Be well. Stay calm. Keep your blood pressure down. There are good people in the world, some faith in the youth would be appreciated. Despite our saggy pants. The jeans will rise up again someday, but first let's focus on more important matters, such as extreme consumption its roots and consequences.

RKirk said...

You ought to get away from thinking in terms of "left" and "right". Such words make it easy for people to preemptively dismiss (or accept) ideas based on their being consigned to one or the other category.

Take for example the article on CONSUMPTION and BOREDOM that I wrote some time ago and which I have republished today (Dec. 4) in response to your comments about BUY NOTHING DAY. I don't consider my comments "leftist" because I reject the "leftist" emphasis on Marx, who puts economics at the center of reality. In this way, ironically, Marxism is a mirror image of the craven capitalist society it criticizes.

Your social critique seems to be organized around a quasi-Marxist paradigm where "capitalism" (a la Christopher Lasch in THE GREENING OF AMERICA) is the problem. I think capitalism is a problem when it isn't adequately restrained by virtue. Virtue is what is at stake in the fashion trends you dismiss as insignificant cyclical phenomena. Those fashion trends are connected with a NEXUS of bad ideas that are discussed in the aforementioned article on consumption and boredom.