NauenThen

The social contract

February 4, 2015

I've been thinking about what the writer/blogger Lindy West refers to as "the eager abandonment of the social contract," the what's-in-it-for-me mentality seen everywhere, across the political spectrum.

It used to be people were & wanted to be good citizens, took pride in it: We voted, we paid our taxes (if with complaints), we went into public service and/or looked up to people who did. Now people opt out of vaccinating their kids (the latest brouhaha), voting, doing jury duty, and worse, are egged on by their immature peers to mock as sheep anyone who believes we all have obligations.

To me they look like overprivileged twits, whose privilege lies in scorning what other (poorer) people desire. I think of Nelson Mandela in prison 27 years & even more, of him standing on that very long line when he had at last achieved the right to vote. And I think of the can't-be-bothered too-cool-for-school folks who won't cross the street to cast their ballot. Even worse than the many examples of this refusal to recognize or bear one's share of communal obligations is that there no longer seems to be any shame in it.