MAYBE not - “American Culture in its Present form is Problematic,” by Andrew Schatkin
There was a time when poets such as Shelley, Byron, Tennyson, and Browning had a wide audience in the English-speaking world. John Stuart Mill, an English 19th century philosopher, had a wide intellectual impact on the English-speaking world and was even in the House of Commons at one point. In short, writers, poets, and philosophers at one time generated great respect and a substantial public following. Even in the 20th century, philosophers such as John Dewey and Bertrand Russell had a great public impact. There persons were in some ways the celebrities of their time.
It is apparent that times have altered and changed and one may wonder if the change has been for the good. American society has admiration for and sets up on a pedestal the wealthy, the rich and the famous. For some time now, it has been pounded into the psyche and minds of the American public that persons with wealth, notoriety, and celebrity fame are the ones to whom we should look up. Images of the rich and famous are constantly flashed for us by way of television, images, computer images and the silver screen. The American public has been propagandized into believing that the rich and famous are the persons to be admired and respected. This is absolutely ridiculous. In our society, little respect is given to intellectual activity whether scientific or otherwise. The American people are told to respect money and success.
In the early 20th century, Albert Schweitzer left his post in France to serve, for no money reward, African natives in what was then French Africa. He did so because of his Christian commitment to alleviate suffering. It is possible that in today's world he would be ignored and the public eye would be focused on former Mayor Bloomberg and Mitt Romney. For every rich and famous celebrity, there is a humble doctor saving lives, a farmer raising food for the world, and, one may hope, a lawyer bringing some form of justice to his clients. For every celebrity and for every one of the rich and famous whose images appear on television and newspapers, there is a mission post throughout the world in which believing Christian render free medical care and establish free schooling for persons too poor to get that help. One may conclude that being rich and famous does not mean a great deal.
Thus I suggest that American culture, which elevates fame, money, and riches, is a poor culture. There is no respect in America for a great writer who earns no money. There is a great respect for sports figures and actors and actresses because, in American society, success is the benchmark and keystone. How one dresses, for an American, defines that person.
In my opinion, American culture is shallow and deficient in its thrust and meaning. Culture should be defined by artistic, intellectual, scientific and literary contributions, and not by wealth appearance, looks, or the images of success that the media impose on the American public and propagandize into believing their validity and Truth.
Times change. In the 4th century A.D., wealthy people went into the desert of Egypt to find Christ. In today's world, people seek to find what they wish will define themselves in their Lexus or their house in the Hamptons or their penthouse on Park Avenue. It remains to be seen where the truth lies. One may only say that a Galilean peasant 2000 years ago founded a movement that is followed by two billion people today. One may wonder whether the wealth and success that American pop culture idolizes will last beyond the deaths of the persons who have presented to us in their lifetimes images that are fictional and false and have no truth.