In a country in which internet news stories encourage readers to post sarcastic—but anonymous—comments; where “professional” journalists try to outshout one another; and people want to raise a monument to a fictional high school teacher turned meth dealer, can it be a surprise that people are uncivil?
In a country in which children are raised on violent video games and movies with more rounds fired and explosives detonated than by Seal Team Six, can it be a surprise that people resolve their differences with drive-by shootings?
In a country which finds it entertaining to watch a sport in which up to two-thirds of the participants end up suffering traumatic brain injury or are entertained by staged “reality” TV programs in which the contestants lie, cheat, and steal to win, can it be a surprise that people lack empathy?
On the other hand, isn’t it something to not be shocked when someone holds open a door, says thank you, or offers to help when you drop something? Isn’t it something to see people lined up to donate blood, volunteer to help out in a disaster, or donate a kidney? Isn’t it something to see young men and women volunteer for the military, or the Peace Corps, or become a first responder for their community?
People may casually say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” but perhaps there’s a lot more truth in those words than we know.