I don't know what has happened to society's values. I really don't. Everyone has an opinion, whether right or wrong, and I don't think you need me sharing my two cents on what's streaming the news this May weekend between the protests and the outcry over events in Minneapolis. However, I do think these major news stories are tipping points to a shift in values that we continue to see in daily life.
There is a larger contingency of people who are not considerate anymore. That's the bottom line. Maybe they weren't forty years ago either, but really in my lifetime, I can tell you there is a breakdown in values that has run rampant especially over the last 15 years. I can't put my finger on whether this is a socioeconomic issue or some other shift, but from where I have visited, lived, and worked this breakdown is across society and cultures. Perhaps it's the ever codependency on technology; I don't know.
On the front line in public and private education, I have watched my students and their parents change over these last twenty years. Every year it has gotten more difficult with less teaching of material and more time on the counseling side of education. I find this concerning. Generally speaking, there are fewer people who take others into account. They hide behind the veil of social media. They play the victim when it serves and they cry foul if their proverbial picket fence is threatened. Few want to take responsibility for their actions and feel justified when challenged. I'm talking about this across the board in populations and family systems.
Knowing this, I pine for the values of my grandparents who were members of the Greatest Generation. As shown in this age of COVID-19, I don't think people are equipped with the same ability to adapt and cope with changes now, as they were during a world war or Great Depression. Between the toilet paper hording, canned good snatching, and more recently protesting social distancing and what stores/restaurants should be opened is eye opening.
I don't assume to be an expert on these issues, but why has it been so hard to help each other and to do the right thing? Maybe that is the greater issue - we are debating on what is the right thing. We are talking about livelihoods and families that are at risk, so it's difficult to put every person and family in the same box. It's a giant grey area.
Still, COVID-19 aside and that drama that we continue to play out, these issues were undercover but lurking prior to these past few months.
For me, I was reminded of this while out and about this morning. Returning from a run, I was dropping a friend off when we spotted a family in the middle of the park and ride parking running their gums. That's me trying to sound like an author.
The people were oblivious. For whatever reason this family was congregating among three parking spots. The oldest, most likely the grandfather or father to someone in the group, was a grey bearded man. He felt it was necessary to lean back with his buttocks firmly on the hood of my friend's car. He was using the hood as his personal seat.
I watched this older man hold court for his children and grandchildren. Instead of apologizing, this man passed the buck and said something like, "I didn't know the car had an owner." Seriously, why would the well cared car be in the middle of a parking lot with current tags and inspection if there was no owner? We didn't engage in further conversation as there was no point. The old timer didn't care and neither did the rest of his entourage.
Likewise, I can tell you stories about residents in the quiet apartment building that feel that midnight is a good time to hook a guitar up to an amp or the people in the busy grocery store parking lot who decide it makes perfect sense to park between two spots as opposed to taking one. There are dog walkers who let their faithful friends run leash-less in an urban park because the dog has to be able to run or they allow the dog to defecate on a neighbor's lawn without the intention to remove the waste. Sure some might say, I'm nitpicking. Really, I'm not though. I'm pointing out these little things add up.
While last week Ziggy Marley was singing in my head, the fact remains that despite those who do the right thing, even when no one is looking, there is a larger group of people who don't seem to care. For that, I'm hoping they'll wake up and realize the world isn't just their oyster but it is a shared one meant for all to experience and love.