Magazine article The Futurist

Individual Rights and Community Responsibilities

Magazine article The Futurist

Individual Rights and Community Responsibilities

Article excerpt

Americans may commit themselves to an ethic of "We" rather than "Me."

Historians will look back on the 1990s, I believe, and see them as a period in which the reconstruction of American society took place. The United States is beginning to experience a movement from "Me-ism" to a commitment to the "We." From a preoccupation with rights, American society is moving to demand that people shoulder their responsibilities and pay greater attention to the needs of their families and communities.

A few examples make the point. More and more U.S. states demand that those who receive welfare seek work, and if they cannot find work, they must perform some kind of public service. Americans are increasingly expected to drink in moderation and avoid smoking in order to reduce the burden on health care. Deadbeat fathers are being persuaded with new vigor to support their children. There is a new willingness to face the deficit in the national budget, and there is also an increase in the number of people who vote.

Standards in schools are beginning to rise. Many schools have dropped the notion of automatic advancement from grade to grade. …

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