America today: A society without shame

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MISSOURI, June 7, 2014 — Today’s America has lost its moral compass. Actions that would have caused tremendous shame for an individual, and his family, in the 1930s and 1940s are accepted as common place now.

Shame. “A painful feeling of embarrassment or disgrace brought on by doing something wrong.”

Our society has no sense of doing wrong, so we have no shame. We have developed an acceptance of a “no shame” attitude towards living in general.

Many years ago, people avoided shame as if it were a dreaded disease. If they were reprimanded in school, it brought shame to the family. The head of the family doled out reprimands that equated to the level of shame that was brought onto the family.


Professional athletes and Hollywood actors regularly cheat on their spouses, drive drunk, take drugs and get arrested for domestic violence. It is commonplace and hardly worth a second look on the headlines. These are people who our children look up to and want to emulate.

Government officials cheat, lie, steal and generally embarrass themselves. But there is no shame for their actions.

In the 1930s and 1940s, these actions would have caused significant scandals. No one would get a pass just because they were politicians. They would have  been thrown out of office for behaving inappropriately and no one would have given them excuses.

It is true that even then, there were high public officials and other celebrities who were less than honorable, but it was swept under the rug. If the public had known about their actions at the time, the reaction would have been much different.

We expected celebrities and officials to behave honorably. We expected our children and our parents to do the same.

Shame on those at the Veterans Administration who are alleged responsible for cooking the books in order to get their bonuses.

Shame on those at Department of Defense and the Veterans administration who have ignored the broken system for years.

Shame on politicians who lie to the public and expect forgiveness.

Shame on athletes and celebrities who take advantage of their prominence to act badly rather than to set a good example.

People who feel shame recognize they have done something wrong. They learn from that feeling and try not to repeat their mistakes.

All of us have done things in our life and were ashamed of, and we all will commit errors again. We are human. But learning from our mistakes is key to becoming better people.

It is good to feel shame, to recognize errors, and to learn.

Without shame, we are lost.

However, that’s a place and time I am from-

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Charles Vandegriff, Sr.
Charles spent a fifty-four-year career in technology, retiring at the director level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a freelance columnist, he has published three books, made over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, and been involved in numerous radio interviews and one television commercial. He has been married for sixty-five years, and has four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great-grand children. Charles is also a Navy veteran.
  • Michael

    Thank you for this article. It resonates with me.

    “However, that’s a place and time I am from.”

    Despite being younger than your grandchildren I am from that place too, though not that time. Having been raised by parents who observe principles of honesty, integrity, and above all the golden rule I am discouraged for our current society. What makes me most fearful is that the general public is now completely aware that our leaders and prominent citizens, are filled with corruption and selfishness, and know nothing of mutual respect or principle-centered living; but they continue to support their films and vote them into office. If a movie star cheats on their spouse it should be a disgrace, but they tell the public they are being true to their inner self and then we romanticize the event. A political scandal should end the career of all involved, but now scandals are only scandalous to the opposite party. This kind of apathy toward right and wrong has pervaded every generation, and if we don’t return to feeling shame then I fear we have no future.

  • Verna Charter

    Charles Vandegriff, Sr, just acquired a new fan. Shame is a feeling that God uses, I believe, to bring awareness and forgiveness.