What Does It Mean To Be A Good Person

1575 words - 7 pages

Modern America and the Diminishing Individual

In his essay “Modern America and the Diminishing Individual”, Peter Cooper talks about how today there is an absence of genuine compassion for one another. Copper opens his essay by stating “The impudence, indifference, self-centeredness, evidenced by some Americans are symptomatic of contemporary national malaise” (70). Which basically means that our attitude for “self” is like a sickness in our society today. He goes on to say “Individual significance in society commonly diminishes in direct proportion to the number of people” (70). He expresses that the reason for this being is that “Human behavior deteriorates when many people ...view middle of the document...

You used to know your neighbors, in some cases they were even like family. If a new family moved in you would come to their home and welcome them to the neighborhood, this does not exist very much anymore. Today you would be lucky to even know your neighbors names. The term “love thy neighbor as you love yourself” is not really relevant anymore. Why? You see in today’s society we only feel the need to associate ourselves with people that can potentially help us. We are so focused on what we can get out of people that we no longer value each other.
We have become so self-indulgent that it has this have become the norm, so much that for us we are unaware of when we are doing it. Recently my Uncle called me and asked me how I was doing, as we further ventured into our conversation, he asked me if I could ask my coach to let him rent the gym. Although he called me, he really did not want to know how I was he wanted me to do a favor for him. He only asked how I was doing because it was the “polite” thing to do. Oddly enough you would think that the one group of people who are supposed to honestly care for you would be your family. Even your family is not exempt from this behavior. They find ways to use you for things rather than to see how you are doing, and getting to know you. Often times we are victims of this, we do things like this unconsciously, and we use people rather than building a relationship with them. We neglect what we are actually doing and we continue to operate with selfish motives and are blind to the fact that we are actually doing it.
We have grown to be conditioned to having selfish motives when interacting with one another. As individuals we are always are looking for ways to get the hottest gear, the coolest electronics, and so we try almost anything to obtain these things. Using someone is the easiest way to get these things. Copper says that “Regarding material goods, he or she who finishes the game with the most toys wins (72).” We feel as though having more things to show off to the world, gives us more acceptance from it. This gives us the perception that we are wealthy or better off when we obtain a lot of materialistic things. We go through extensive lengths to obtain these things, even if it means using people. For example, a guy has a crush on a girl so he spoils her; he buys her so many fancy and expensive gifts, so in return she goes out with him. She may not genuinely like him for him but, she finds herself blinded by what he can do for her and really does not like him as a person. We do it so subtly that we have developed this as a sort of a norm and may not really realize what are doing is in fact wrong. To classify how you interact with people based off of what they can do for you, is a pretty messed up way to live. You never develop relationships with true undeniable value; rather it is this shallow, fake engagement between two human beings.
In actuality, we are all often times guilty of using...

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