Times of crises are times to pull together. We can stand united or fall separately is a phrase that seems appropriate. Of course preppers and apocolyptics are individuals who have a certain disassociation from the greater society: after all it is supposed to be collapsing. But that does not make them anti-social per se. Thus, if at some point there came to be a realization by the great masses that some drastic and immediate group action was required to avoid some impending doom, we would all pull together for the greater good. We would be the new “Greatest Generation.” After The Great War was followed by another Great War, they used Roman numerals: so we would rename them Greatest Generation I (GG I) and we would be Greatest Generation II (GG II).
Unfortunately there is a slight bump in that rosy road ahead:
A recent study by Sara H. Konrath of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, found that college students’ self-reported empathy has declined since 1980, with an especially steep drop in the past 10 years.
[T]he new finding that empathy is on the decline indicates that even when a trait is hardwired, social context can exert a profound effect, changing even our most basic emotional responses. Precisely what is sapping young people of their natural impulse to feel for others remains mysterious, however, because scientists cannot design a study to evaluate changes that occurred in the past. As Twenge puts it, “you can’t randomly assign people to a generation.”
In the past 30 years Americans have become more likely to live alone and less likely to join groups—ranging from PTAs to political parties to casual sports teams. Several studies hint that this type of isolation can take a toll on people’s attitudes toward others. From Jamil Zaki, What, Me Care? Young are Less Empathetic at Scientific American; ht naked capitalism.
This study dovetails (as noted within the quote) with Jean M. Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, who in her recent book Narcissism Epidemic noted that although students test scores have hardly improved in the last 30 years, they feel pretty good about it. Oddly enough, the group with the lowest self esteem (Asian Americans) scored the highest.
So we will not be the Greatest Generation II, but will like think we are, as we go flaming down the tubes.
Now there have been some tangentially related studies that show that it is Americans (aka citizens of the United States) are particularly prone to these trends. The people of foreign countries are more humble and cooperative. So it is possible they may have a greater likelihood of acting together to solve their problems.
Maybe so, but they won’t be calling themselves the Greatest Generation.
Dr. Jean M. Twenge
As a postscript note, my son (first grade) discovered that one of his friends did not have any Valentine cards to give out to his classmates. This is a big deal in first grade. So he got his "girlfriend" to give the young lad a quarter, and he has collected $6 of his own savings to pay for them. Now Cupid (in the form of virus) has struck him down and he is home watching Star Wars DVDs on TV while he rides out the fever. So I am not sure if he will be able to deliver the money: but the effort is being made on the 4'tall front. So may all hope should not be lost for the coming generations.