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Age of Distraction?

It has been said that we live in the Age of Information, so called because of the worldwide communication exchange brought about by computers.
     From a sociological point of view, I would call it the Age of Distraction.
     In almost every avenue of our lives we are being distracted from what we need to focus on, and for this reason our personal and social problems proliferate.
     Alcohol and drug abuse are obvious distractions from the responsibilities of living. But so is television, which consumes so many hours of the day which might otherwise have been productive. Basketball and football games gain our complete attention, while the problems of our loved ones garner half hearted grunts of recognition.
     The fruits of competition distract us from how we might be hurting other people, or the environment.
     Endless party bickering and scandal mongering distracts political leaders from the kind of policy decisions that we desperately need them to make.
     The abortion issue dominates national attention as the debate between pro-life and pro-choice go nowhere. The problems of unwanted pregnancies, teenagers having babies, failed marriages, poverty and overpopulation are ignored.
     Discussions about race issues distract us from the simple fact that you can't generalize about race, no matter how well-meaning, without supporting racism. Whenever you speak of race, you carry the assumption that everyone in that race thinks and feels exactly the same way — which is completely untrue and we all know it. It's not true to the race you belong to, why should it be true of others? Categorizing people does not promote healing and brotherhood. It segregates the world in people's minds. We then wonder why the nation is unable to heal.
     Sometimes we are so distracted by ambition for our children's future that we fail to see their present day needs.
     The media forces us to focus on a topic like gay marriage to generate controversy. Opinions abound, along with tempers. Meanwhile, heterosexual marriages, the backbone of our society, are failing at an alarming rate, and are often marred by abuse and abandonment. Which problem is more devastating?
     In dealing with social issues, we distract ourselves by our own efforts. We worry about the drug addict, the alcoholic, the high school dropout, the teenage mother, violence on the streets, spousal abuse, rape, and the youngster just arrested for a crime.
     Our response? Costly treatment centers, endless therapy, more welfare, more police, more judges, more prisons… In this way, we feel we are doing something, even though the problems persist and even thrive. We are being distracted by our own efforts from taking real action that we need. We can't end social problems by finding better ways to tolerate them. That stops us from taking the problems seriously. We have to go to the source. Something in our society is generating these problems. That's what we have to change.
     A few years ago, a radical idea hit the field: Prevention! We need ways of preventing children from getting into trouble. How do we do it? By distracting them, of course.
     It was a popular idea, but difficult to fund. Government resisted putting money into a program that could not demonstrate its own success (how do you prove that so many children were saved, and from what?).
     In my opinion, the very focus on prevention was misplaced. We need pre-prevention. We need to eliminate, as far as possible, the problems that plague society. It's not right to focus on protecting only the chosen few, while the problems continue to flourish all around us.
     We don't need another distraction from doing what we have to do. As a society, it's time we grow up. We have to take away the glamour of doing what is wrong. We have to stop rewarding antisocial behavior. We have to develop a culture that is more humane. We have to start with the choices we make every day, and not allow ourselves to be distracted from the truth.
     We need the moral integrity to withdraw our support, no matter how passive, of what is wrong. We should refuse to profit from anything that hurts people. We should oppose the mindset that tries to distract us from (and so protect) the source of our problems. Only then can we serve as positive role models to our own children and neighbors.

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