by Tim Jones 11/22/14
The trajectory of society is being dumbed down and has been for quite some time. Principles and virtues have been relativized with the slow-motion degradation of any kind of universal standards of morality. We now live in an entertainment society where pleasure and consumerism rule and the lack of curiosity and intellectual pursuit are considered unhip and a waste of time: narcissism, egotism, vanity, whatever you want to call it, have become the dominant personality trait.
Today’s cultural zeitgeist of self-realization is just another name for self-absorption manifesting itself in a myriad of ways, such as seeking the perfect sculpted body at the fanciest fitness center in town or some kind of pseudo-transcendence through the secular religion of yoga or possibly obtaining personal “power” at the latest Tony Robbins seminar.
The triumph of the self has led to the death of greatness and heroism because no one truly pursues anything that may be greater than themselves and requires personal sacrifice and genuinely puts the interest of others above themselves. The politics of personal destruction that began with bringing down Nixon has led to a ‘gotcha, tear-them-down-at-all costs’ media mindset. When a president can get away with lying to a grand jury and not lose his job for marital infidelity right in the White House while retaining record high approval ratings reflects a society that no longer can recognize any kind of universal moral standards.
How can a political leader be great when for most politicians getting on the government payroll and staying there for as long as possible takes priority over actually sticking to one’s principles even at the risk of losing the next election. For those that do stick by their principles, they more often than not will be rewarded by the electorate (unless you’re a democrat who really don’t live by principles but by soundbites) but also more often than not the media will preemptively tear you down before letting the public determine the genuine virtuosity of emerging leaders, (see Sarah Palin).
Media fickleness and banality perpetuates a culture of shallowness and triviality. It always seems to highlight acts of heroism during times of natural disasters or extraordinary bravery or act of kindness, but these are not people in the public arena who demonstrate sacrifice and principle in their public role. True heroism is sacrifice that no longer exists in the ‘me culture’ when it come to leaders.
The dumbing down of our culture begins and ends with our mainstream media as it dominates the means of communication. One morning this week on the Today Show they were talking about the mainstreaming of pot and how Bob Marley’s family is going to make a fortune off of branding his name like it was some kind of great American success story. On GMA, they covered the story on the $325 million contract for a Miami baseball player, making it the largest in sports history. When the preeminent values of a society are more money, more pleasure, more entertainment and more leisure, heroism becomes a synthetic virtue while genuine heroes and the greatness of their acts in times long gone will be found only in history books.
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