Americans were once, overall, a disciplined society in terms of keeping the environment pristine and cleaning up after ourselves. Our parents taught us very early not to litter and to clean up the messes we made. Our parents made faces of disapproval at those who spit on the sidewalk or threw trash out the car window. Defacing the property of others was strictly forbidden. In school we were encouraged to take care our own belongings, respect the belongings of others, and take extra care in Smokey Bear’s forest. It’s a lot different today. Exceptions can be found in any culture but in general Americans were once much more respectful of others and conscientious about keeping surroundings neat and clean.
Anyone who’s deplaned following a flight across the fruited plain realizes that the exception has now become the rule…Americans can be real pigs. Gone are the days of civic duty and respect for ourselves and our neighbors. Our cities are filled with graffiti, trash, and even human excrement. People are often rude or pushy. Wildfires, some set by criminals but some through irresponsible citizen activities have ravaged our forests. Monuments have been defaced and knocked down. Citizens stalk and harass those with whom they disagree. We’ve seen stores trashed and people beaten to a pulp as forms of youth entertainment. In some circles defacing or destroying property is considered brave, or noble.
One of the most striking examples of this sloth and indifference is the mess Obama’s supporters left on the DC Mall at the 2009 inauguration. You’d think the pride of that historic moment would have induced more responsible behavior. But social responsibility is no longer part of the overall American fabric. Trash was everywhere at the end of that day…and the grass had to be replaced, at great expense, it was so badly damaged.
Americans could take a lesson from Japanese following following a recent soccer loss. Pride and civic duty, not to mention good sportsmanship, show the pride they take in their nation and it’s culture:
Following a devastating 3-2 loss to Belgium — where Japan took a 2-0 lead in the second half before losing in stoppage time — the Japanese players made sure to leave their dressing room at Rostov Arena completely spotless.
They even left a note saying “thank you” in Russian.
And while the players and staff cleaned the team dressing room, the Japanese fans made sure to do the same in the stands — just as they have after every other match throughout the tournament.
Wow! The Japanese soccer team and it’s loyal fans showed the world what it is to be a good citizen in practice and not just words.
You know we are failing each other when we don’t even have the good sense to feel ashamed about the trashy ways we and our neighbors live. Artificially induced feelings and caring have replaced responsible living when it comes to personal comportment and our immediate environment. Donations to green causes absolve too many of us regarding everyday responsibilities. Way to many of us have adopted an attitude of entitlement that suggest we can do whatever we want, especially for a cause, and someone else can take care of the mess left behind. And…there are too many in the adult community and in positions of power that encouraging and condone such behavior.
Personal civic responsibility and pride is dying in America. A poll out today suggest that a fairly high percentage of Americans are indifferent and lacking in pride about our country. Only a third of Democrats say they are extremely proud to be American (Three quarters of Republicans see themselves as extremely proud).
How much does this indifference, incivility, and sloth affect the way we experience our life in America? It’s difficult to say which came first, the lack of proper training or the indoctrination substitute that’s rendered our citizens self-interested and irresponsible. The remedy lies in raised awareness today and better training of future generations.
As we approach the Fourth of July celebration of our independence it would be smart to become more mindful of the importance of civic duty, a concept that even the smallest child can learn to appreciate, respect, and carry forward into their everyday lives!.