A strong concern of the 21st century is the common opinion that in today’s society, morals, values, principles, integrity, honesty, compassion, and good living are on the way out.  This is not just the spouting and the ramblings of the naysayers and the pessimists.  Indeed, popular consensus shows us that the average quality of living in the United States from a materialistic standpoint has gone up, but the quality of living from the viewpoint of morals, integrity and basic human kindness has gone down.

Untold manifestations of this have cropped up all across the nation of late.  Witness higher divorce rates.  Witness adultery becoming something that is accepted rather than something that is reprimanded.  Witness increases in drug and alcohol use and abuse amongst Americans of all demographics, ages, and income levels.  Witness individualization to the point of social unkindness.  Witness the increases in public shootings, thefts, and racial drama and turmoil.  Witness a furtherance of individual aims and purposes and a downtrend in traditional family values and compassion.  Witness it, for it is there.

Today we must ask ourselves, what happened to America?  What happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave?  How are we free if we are trapped by materialistic possessions?  How are we brave if we turn a blind eye to the lone hitchhiker or the stranded motorist?

Improve Society by Improving Yourself

For those of us who desire an improvement in society at large, we must lead by example.  To do this, we must set for ourselves a good example both at home and in the workplace.  Setting a good example, according to great men like Mahatma Gandhi, Confucius, and Martin Luther King Jr., is the best way to erect positive, moral change through one’s own good actions.  In spite of what some would say, we look to each other for wisdom and truth more so than we do to ourselves.  When in doubt, we look to the man or the woman next to us.  How is he or she dealing with the struggles of life?  Should I follow his or her example?

This is the key to better living not only for yourself, but for your fellow man.  If you set a policy at work, follow it yourself.  If you ask a family member to do something, make sure it is something you yourself would be willing to do.  If you notice detriments in the character of others, look inwards and make sure you are not expressing those same characteristics in yourself.  If you demand greatness and excellence from your family, from your friends, or from your co-workers, then be sure to touch the lives of those around you in such a way that inspires that very same greatness and excellence through simple kindness, not through demands or duress.

Change is possible.  For this nation and for the world, change is necessary.  India did not win its independence in a day, the Berlin Wall did not all come down at once, and equal rights in the U.S. were not won overnight.  Nevertheless, these changes did occur and we have the ability to lead by example to create positive change for the future for ourselves and for generations to come.  We must exercise that ability for if we do not live for morality, for honesty, for integrity, for compassion, and for a love of all mankind, then what do we live for?