General Question

Zuma's avatar

What has happened to our capacity for empathy and our sense of social solidarity?

Asked by Zuma (5908points) May 6th, 2009

Once upon a time people rooted for the underdog in America. They were concerned about inequality and poverty. They enacted Social Security and Medicare so that seniors could live in dignity in their old age.

They sought to end the effects of racial discrimination by instituting equal opportunity programs, affirmative action, and by remediating the more persistent cultural disadvantages of poverty through programs like Head Start.

They sought to liberate women from their traditional economic dependence on men by making it possible for a single woman to raise her children on welfare. Anyone who wanted to go to college could get financial aid.

Most of that has been rolled back. The mentally ill have been completely abandoned; affirmative action is a dead letter; civil rights enforcement has more or less been dismantled (up until recently); and there is a pervasive attitude that if you are poor, unemployed, or disenfranchised, it’s your own fault.

People who are losing their homes in foreclosure have been called “losers.” People who were duped into sub-prime loans by predatory lenders are being blamed for being over-reaching and greedy. We incarcerate more people than any country in the world, and under some of the worst conditions. We try children as adults; we sentence them to life in prison and even death. We clamor for evermore severe penalties. We invade other countries; we imprison and torture people.

Indeed, it would seem we can hardly stand one another.

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4 Answers

Judi's avatar

I think the tide is turning! (voice of optimism!)

iJimmy's avatar

That’s the picture mainstream media paints. But I think it’s wrong and not online with society.

Dog's avatar

I think the vast majority of Americans still want those things but we are watching as our elected leaders destroy it. They (our elected officials) are unable to keep within a practical budget and stop spending billions where it only benefits a few at great expense of many.

Thus many of us who want all the solid American values do not feel our government is keeping up with their end of the bargain.

_bob's avatar

My dog ate mine.

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