Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Dual-Earning Dangers What Happens to Communities When Everyone's Always Pooped?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Dual-Earning Dangers What Happens to Communities When Everyone's Always Pooped?

Article excerpt

AN outraged woman called me on the telephone recently. She said she went to her son's school for parents' night and only about 100 out of a possible 600-1,000 parents bothered to come.

There was a meeting on the future of the polluted Long Island Sound a few weeks ago, too, with experts on hand to give education and advice. Only about 50 people showed up.

An angry newspaper reader writes a graphic letter describing how disabled American veterans in hospitals become wretchedly depressed because so few volunteers ever visit with them.

You can blame apathy, or self-centeredness, or an unwillingness to care.

I blame something else.

I think just about everybody is working. People are busy; tired.

Holding a job doesn't excuse people for not showing up at citizens forums, and most expecially for not caring enough about their child's education to go to an open house at a school.

But it sure does offer an explanation.

There are nights when you would have to set some people's hair on fire - mine included - before they would rouse themselves from staring, slack-jawed, at television in the evening.

I began to think about this more when I started an evening class one day a week, and so I began to go into the office late every Monday.

In some ways, it is an unsettling experience.

Each time I take my daughter on our morning walk, I get the eerie feeling that a neutron bomb has hit most of the neighborhoods.

It's a ghost town. Nobody's home.

Shutters rattle in the wind. Traffic is non-existent.

When I was young, there was only one married woman on my street who wasn't home during the day. All the other women stayed home. They were out often - hanging laundry and sometimes taking a moment to visit with each other.

There was life in our neighborhoods. It was a community. And staying home at least supplied a ready population of people who had the energy left at the end of a day - not to mention cabin fever - to go to a civic forum. …

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