I often hear people lamenting some trait that has gone missing from our society. If we want to go back to happier, more productive days (so the theory goes) we need to return a particular behavior to our national discourse.
For example, some say we need civility. Others might suggest we have a lack of honesty. Or respect, compromise, empathy, or even a willingness to listen.
Is there a particular trait or behavior that we seem to be missing? Which ones do you think are most important to a healthy society?
Related questions: Why are we so antagonistic? What makes a community? Why do we hate? How important is respect? Where is society failing?
3 thoughts on “What Trait Is Most Missing From Our Society?”
There are a lot of contenders for this dubious honor. Many of those are listed in the post, but there even more than is listed. And many of them go hand in hand.
For example, empathy and civility. If you can’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try and see the world from their perspective, then it is much more likely that you will dehumanize them, and treat them with contempt.
But for my choice, I am going to go with a more broad answer: thoughtfulness is the one behavior that I wish I would see more in our society. And in my opinion, it is that thoughtlessness that drives many of the others.
Being more thoughtful would include empathy, respect, skepticism, and a host of other behaviors that are sorely needed now.
Which, I suppose, explains this blog. Ultimately, this is an experiment in getting people to think more, and more deeply, about the issues we face, both topical issues but also timeless ones. Asking questions seems like a good way to start.
My twin neglected traits are reverence for our planet and stewardship of our resources.
Americans’, 4% of the world’s population, consume (and often throw away) 25% of the resources. Much of what we make is meant to be disposed of after a short amount of time — from plastic bottles thrown away after one use to electronic gadgets that become obsolete in little over a year. Also, did you know that somewhere along the food system — from farmers harvesting to households throwing out — 40% of food is wasted? In the process, we are poisoning and/or tearing down our natural environments to produce more of what we “need.”
There are consequences to such actions. Humans — disproportionately Americans — are turning our planet into a place uninhabitable to us.
I believe the behavior most lacking in our society is love. Love of God, love of self, and love of neighbor. It’s there all right, but sadly it’s lacking. For example, we now have a pandemic in our country and around the world because we don’t love ourselves and our neighbors enough to take simple precautions to stop the virus from spreading.
Wherever we look we see sickness, hunger, homelessness, crime, racism, and death. The list goes on and on.
So what shall we do to bring more love into the world? We can start right where we are, with one small step. This morning on my daily walk, I ran into a lady I’ve known for many years. She was stooped over picking up trash in the middle of the road. When I complimented her for her good deed, she said she’d already filled and emptied her bag just a few blocks from her house.
Her small, good deed won’t be in vain. It will have a ripple effect. Already I’m sharing it here, and God only knows where it will go.
At my daughter’s wedding 20 years ago, the minister read some of his favorite verses in all the Bible. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…
…And now Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13