Cultural Observation: Demoralized Language

“Public language has also become demoralized. Google ngrams measure word usage across media. Google scans the contents of books and publications going back decades. You can type in a word and see, over the years, which words have been used more frequently and which less frequently. Over the past few decades there has been a sharp rise in the usage of individualist words and phrases like “self” and “personalized,” “I come first” and “I can do it myself,” and a sharp decline in community words like “community,” “share,” “united,” and “common good.” The use of words having to do with economics and business has increased, while the language of morality and character building is in decline. Usage of words like “character,” “conscience,” and “virtue” all declined over the course of the twentieth century.26Usage of the word “bravery” has declined by 66 percent over the course of the twentieth century. “Gratitude” is down 49 percent. “Humbleness” is down 52 percent and “kindness” is down 56 percent.” -David Brooks, The Road to Character

‘So Happy Together’

George Vaillant, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has followed more than two hundred men since the late 1930s to find what makes for the happiest and most fulfilling lives, concluded, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

• The “Very Happy People” survey assessed the top 10 percent of very happy people and found that they “were highly social, and had stronger romantic and other social relationships than less happy groups.”

• An empirical study of well-being among sixteen hundred Harvard undergraduates discovered that the greatest predictor of happiness was not GPA, SAT scores, family income, gender, or age, but social support.

• National surveys find that when someone claims to have five or more friends with whom she can discuss important problems, she is 60 percent more likely to say that she is “very happy.”

David Murray, The Happy Christian

One Family, One Flock

“It should be pointed out at once in this connection that both sons, and both categories, are said to be the sons of a common father. They belong together, in one family, one people. In the same way the other two parables indicate that the hundred sheep, of which one becomes lost, constitute a single flock, and the ten pieces of silver compose a single treasure.” -John R. DeWitt, Amazing Love