One indicator of a society's health is how well it socializes its citizens. When a society's socialization process breaks down that society is in trouble, deep trouble.
In large measure, the socialization process in the United States has broken down. This hasn't happened overnight, yet statistics on crime, divorce, literacy, suicide, homelessness, worker productivity, mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism. etc., speak for themselves.
The rise of Uzi Nation in our cities' ghettoes testifies to the breakdown of the socialization process. Increasingly, the U.S. is spawning a significant large population of amoral illiterates with little or no impulse control, who lack the ability to think and to speak in a manner fit for participation in society-at-large.
For all intents and purposes, these kids are beyond reclamation. Most can't and won't be rehabilitated because they have never been "habitated" or socialized in the first place. This is not a value judgment, this is a fact.
We're spending more repairing the damage caused by the breakdown of the socialization process (welfare, foster care, prisons, police, mental health treatment, etc.) than on constructive projects, like building roads and cleaning up the environment. For as long as our society continues to produce unsocialized individuals at a geometric rate, things can only get worse. Repairing said damage is the major reason why so many American cities, including Philadelphia, are bankrupt.
Granted, socialization is not quite so simple as sketched here. There is a gap between what a society says it is and what it actually is. The width and breadth of that gap ebbs like the tides from generation to generation.
Arguably, one reason for the cataclysmic social upheavals during the 1960s in the United States is that so many of us were so well socialized and so well educated that the truth of that gap had become obvious, and therefore intolerable. All societies need their rebels (with, not without causes), critics, curmudgeons and conscientious objectors. They keep the social body healthy. In fact, a society can be judged healthy to the degree to which it accommodates its critics.
Nevertheless, socialization is about conformity and expectations and standards - enforced standards. These standards must be applied equally, to everyone, in every sector of society. We must stop making excuses for ourselves and for everyone else.
For example, fair or not, it shouldn't matter if a child is economically or culturally disadvantaged, he must be expected to perfrom at a certain level to move from one grade in school to the next. We must not lie to our children by giving them diplomas and degrees when they know nothing. We, as a society, have become like the much-railed-against 'permissive parent' who is afraid to discipline his child for fear of hurting the child's feelings.
Socialization is about imposing values and standards and expectations, no cultural or ethnic group, no matter what. Standards should not be lowered to accommodate those who are foundering; performance should be raised. We expect nothing from so many of our citizens and we get nothing in return. Well, we do get something in return; we get problems, serious problems. We've created a monster and we, as a society, have no one to blame but ourselves.
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