"We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has ... bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal." -- Carl Bernstein.
I have to strongly agree, except with the "in the process of" part. I think we've already created a HUGE idiot culture.
I'm really sick and tired of picking up the newspaper or turning on the TV every week and seeing that some idiot has done something outrageous to harm others and gain attention for himself.
We like to blame parents in this culture, and parents ARE often to blame, but I think we have to look at our culture at large, too. We've developed a tolerance for asinine and idiotic behavior and have, in fact, tied the hands of parents and authority figures.
We've grown tolerant of teens backtalking their teachers, their parents, the police, or any other authority figure or adult. This would not have been tolerated 50 years ago, so why do we tolerate it now? I don't think it's an accident that the 20-somethings are now wreaking havoc in our culture, killing our children as they sit in schools, damaging the property of others in the name of "fun," or using language that 30 years ago would have made a sailor blush. This is the generation that was told, from birth, "no one is more important than you; you are the most important person in the world." Then we shake our heads, bury our children, and wonder why these ying-yangs have no compassion for anyone else. As parents we were told we should "reason" with our children and not tell them they're "wrong," that we shouldn't paddle them or scold them because their fragile little egos wouldn't be able to take it.
And we are paying the price now, aren't we?
Of course our children can't sit down, shut up, and learn what they're supposed to. They've never had to sit down and behave. Of course our young adults are egotistical and think they have a right to go shoot up places because they're angry or upset; we've told them there's no one more important than they. Of course, our young adults have a difficult time dealing with disappointment and rejections; we've always swooped in and rescued them from having to deal with any of life's seedier side.
And, yes, I'm sure mental illness is to blame in many cases. But we have to ask ourselves WHY so many of our young are mentally ill now. We have to wonder what we have created in this culture -- the tolerance for nonsense, the degradation of the family unit and going from marriage to marriage and having umpteen children in each, while providing no stability -- that contributes to this. We are all to blame for the nonsense going on in this country. My own children never did everything I told them to, but at least I tried. And when they did get into trouble, even if arrested over a minor offense, I didn't swoop in and rescue them; they sat there for a bit to think about what they'd done and they took the punishment and consequences their actions incurred. Parents who refuse to allow their children to take the consequences of acting like an idiot only invite increasingly idiotic behavior.
And so it goes on and on and on….and we keep burying our young people and we keep asking ourselves WHY? Because we have allowed it.