Leisure in America: A Social Inquiry

Leisure in America: A Social Inquiry

Leisure in America: A Social Inquiry

Leisure in America: A Social Inquiry

Excerpt

T wo major prblems confront life in the United States today: how can we insure survival as persons and as a nation and what will the conditions of this survival be?

Of these issues, the second is by far the more important. Survival itself is easy to arrange by the mere act of capitulation.

Why should we survive? A host of words, phrases, clichés, banners, and ideologies flood the mind: liberty, individualism, dignity of man, the American creed, democracy....

Yet each of these ends -- survival and the conditions of survival -- provides us with a dual set of problems, one perennial, the other uniquely contemporary. Survival has challenged man since his cave days: survival in the face of animals, enemies, disease, and natural calamities. Here, the new dimension is total warfare or the possibility that atomic and hydrogen wars will wipe us out at a faster rate than we can reproduce ourselves.

The problem of man's goals and his meanings in life has been with him as long as he has been able to objectify himself, and probably all of the major philosophical issues implicit in the problem were well formulated by Socrates and Aristotle. Here, the new dimension stems from industrialization, and implicit in this are the ramifications of urbanization, mass education, mass culture, new transportation, and communication phenomena.

Obviously, the two new dimensions are closely interrelated. Just as atomic power is useful for great destruction as well as for industrial energy, it is part of the new attitudes of man toward himself and the world. These are attitudes, on the one hand, of futility, uprootedness, malaise, conformity, quest for certainty, alienation, and other-directedness; on the other hand, of new adventure, creative possibilities for . . .

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