Robert Putman’s “Bowling Alone” Should send a signal to all of us that something has gone horribly wrong with America.While some scholars may be critical of Putman’s work, many resonate with the accuracy of his assessment. One of Solomon’s proverbs illustrates this: “the rich have many friends, but the poor is despised even by his neighbor.” The wealthy critics of Putman are no doubt protected by their status in society. “Just as wisdom is a shelter, so wealth is a shelter,” Solomon. It is not only a shelter from poverty, but a shield against the impoverished circumstances that so many trudge through on a daily basis. People reason from their own experience. It requires a towering imagination for one to understand an experience that is not his own.
Aberrations are beginning to emerge that are foreign to our past. Narcissism is on the rise and the sociopathic personality has risen with it. Change has somehow become synonymous with progress. Such tragedies as the Columbine High glare through our television sets as we have all become normalized in our reactions to such horrific events. Lone wolf shooters are now ubiquitous and infused with life itself.
The one religion that held us all together for so many years has now waned and become static noise in our minds, as if church attendance is a duty without any substance or expectation to learn. The sweeping slopes of doubt impel our imagination almost as if we are never really quite certain of anything until we are uncertain. Not only do Americans believe that knowledge is not possible, but actually despair of knowledge and believe it to be like a fading mirage, temporal, and transient.
“There are no absolutes!” Social Scientists exclaim with unwavering pride. Whatever can not be seen, sampled, or physically interacted with, is rejected as witch craft. One might do well to be reminded that such monsters as Stalin, Khrushchev, and Adolf Hitler created scientific societies that bowed before the alter of atomism.
Victor Frankl once said that places like Auschwitz were born on the desk of an academic. And who suffered from the atrocities of the death camps? Not the academics. They basked in the comforts afforded them by their tenure while everyone else fell below the line of disparity. Though the champions of science may worship reason, they actually reject reason itself when confronted with apriori logic. Empiricism is not the only epistemological avenue to extrapolate knowledge.
The people who think that this culture walks on water need to take second gander. Just because something cannot be seen does not necessarily deny its existence. The more a society moves toward atomism, the less reliant upon logic it becomes, hence, the emergence of new ageism, Jungian analysts, UFOs, Zombie apocalypses, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, ect. Irrationality becomes a badge of honor that one proudly wares. If irrationality becomes the standard of judgment, then the irrational will come to believe the rational to be irrational.
Hyper individuality divides people because each person has his own individual truth. No truth is superior to the other which translates into, “there is no truth.” For example, if one believes in ghosts, he may find common ground and unite with others who believe in ghosts, however, when such collective beliefs become so exponentially numerical, one is left with a society splintered a thousand different ways.
Emotions become the leading edge of truth. I am reminded what C.S Lewis once wrote: “emotions and sentiments by themselves are alogical, they may be reasonable or unreasonable as they conform or fail to conform to reason.” The post Darwinian Scientists call themselves paragons of reason, however, I become suspicious when they refer to the universe as benevolent. Benevolence is a human quality. A universe cannot be benevolent, only humans can have this attribute. This makes me believe there may be a number of Scientists who believe in the personification of substances, a religion known as pantheism.
The lonely American will never unite under atomism. The perpetual movement in the human psyche will assure him there is no foundation to rest his weary soul. There will be a significant decreased interest in his fellow human beings. I was speaking with a colleague not too long ago who asked me if I had noticed that people are no longer inquisitive and curious about each other. When one meets another in these post modern days, he can rest assured, the person, whether sitting, or standing across from him, will only talk about himself, and have very little interest in dialogue.