Saturday, July 8, 2017

Lighter Fare

I really enjoyed reading this column from David Brooks in the New York Times on something of a slippery social standard. Interestingly, one reader found it unbecoming the standards set by that news source.

Mr. Averill's sarcastic protest calls to mind a few reasons why I appreciate Mr. Brooks taking the time to write on the trend of bailing. First, it's good that a serious and articulate columnist tries to apply his gifts at a behavioral trend. And I would suggest that the trend Brooks is shedding light on is more important than we think, and it allows me to better understand a behavior I see a lot in the students I work with as well as my same-age peers (I don't notice it nearly as much from those who are older than me). It allows me to better understand a poor behavior I engage in from time to time or consider engaging in. Bailing is a more significant issue than initially meets the eye.

Second, it's useful that a serious journalist takes time away from analyzing the malaise that has fallen on national politics. It's hard to separate small thinking from large problems from our political leadership right now. Brooks is applying large thinking to a societal issue that seems small but I think is more onerous.

And, finally, it's a reminder of how we shouldn't forget to look at the way we, as members of a society, are incentivizing behaviors that make us more civilized or challenge us to be as civil as we could be. We're more in control of our fates that we realize, and a focus on what is or is not happening in Washington (or Harrisburg) lets us off easy. Being conscious of the way we may be aiding and abetting ills to befall our society is as necessary as awareness of what a person whose name is followed by a D or R is enacting or Tweeting.

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