And as often is the case, the headline is less a real indication of the argument than it is a means of getting people to at least pay attention to the argument being made.
However, Hirsch has a line in her piece which strikes a chord.
We are a people who have rejected traditions which we once honored, but now sneer at — things like religious faith, respect for others and for life, and morality. Instead of believing in God, we make ourselves to be gods, and self-interest is what we worship.I have had uncountable conversations over the past couple of years regarding a phenomena that I am still trying to determine whether is real.
My tentative observation is that it seems that there are fewer real conversations and conversationalists around. People who recognize conversation as an art form to be practiced and cultivated. People with capacious minds and hearts. People who sit down to share a conversation of discovery.
Rather, there seems an ever greater proportion of people who seize every verbal interaction as an opportunity to a) spill their troubles, b) declare their treasured but shallow opinions, c) complain, or d) fill the air with the sound of their voice. People who are not interested in a conversational partner but want an audience.
Is that observation true? I don't know, but it feels like it. And others seem to notice it as well.
If accepted as a true statement, I am also at sea as to causes though I suspect they do lie in loss of tradition, respect arise from religious exploration, and the unpleasant pervasiveness of postmodernism with its emphasis on everyone is a winner. It seems like we have been cultivating a generation of little emperors. But emperors with no clothes.
Which all relates to Hirsch's phrase
Instead of believing in God, we make ourselves to be gods, and self-interest is what we worship.That is as good an explanation of the decline of conversationalists as any. Conversation takes at least two people of good heart and good mind and we have been forming small hearts and small minds with narrow horizons but religious conviction in their own primacy.
From this perspective, the vaunted political polarization (which I believe to be an incorrect diagnosis anyway) is perhaps not really about polarization but about the dissolution of social customs and the primacy of self-regard.