I experienced something on the drive home from work that dramatically illustrates how we're quickly morphing into a passive culture expecting someone else to solve our problems. We live on top of a mountain with a very steep (25% average grade) two-lane road. Passing is obviously not allowed. As I started up the road, I quickly came upon stopped cars, as far as the eye could see. I pulled up to the end of the line and waited, believing there was a very slow heavy-laden truck working its way up the mountain. But the line wasn't moving. And the line of cars continued to back up down the mountain behind me. After a couple of cars came by me on the way down, I realized something else was going on. So, I shut off the engine, engaged the parking brake and began trekking up the mountain to see if anyone needed help. Walking several hundred yards past dozens of cars around a corner, I came upon the problem - an overloaded truck was unable to move any further up the steep grade.
No male (I didn't expect any woman to do it) took the initiative to get out of their car and direct traffic up and down the mountain past the stalled truck. All the men (including the truck driver) were content to sit in their cars on the steep grade listening to the radio ... and wait for someone else to come fix their problem. I was told the police had been called whom apparently everyone was waiting for. Astonished and somewhat angry, I immediately started directing traffic past the stalled truck and managed to clear the huge backlog of traffic before the police ever arrived.
Another incident: A year ago, we were travelling on the Interstate and came upon stopped cars that were blocking all lanes. I stopped and shut off the engine. We were unable to see more than a couple of hundred yards ahead where there was a hill. About 10 minutes later, a truck heading in the opposite direction went by on the other side of the Interstate and shouted out his window, "You guys are going to be there a long time!" It was now obvious an accident was blocking all lanes ahead and that it wasn't going to be clear for some time. I pulled out into the grass median onto the other side and headed back towards an exit we had passed a mile back. I exited the Interstate and headed east. After 5 miles, I found a road that paralleled the Interstate which I followed for 10 miles. I then found another road heading west back towards the Interstate. Soon I was back on the Interstate 10 miles past the accident. I was all by myself. As far as I know everyone else was content to sit on the Interstate for hours waiting for someone else to fix the problem.
What happened is a perfect illustration of what's become of the culture. Initiative, self-sufficiency and common sense are rapidly disappearing. In its wake is a largely mollified and pacifist, selfish populace, increasingly dependent upon someone else to fix their problems. The NLT translation of Prov 21:16 says, "The person who strays from common sense will end up in the company of the dead."
Compounding the problem is the transition to a culture of "victimhood" explained by Jonathan Haidt here whereby "people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim."
The key idea is that the new moral culture of victimhood fosters “moral dependence” and an atrophying of the ability to handle small interpersonal matters on one’s own. At the same time that it weakens individuals, it creates a society of constant and intense moral conflict as people compete for status as victims or as defenders of victims.
God help us.