Life in the US seems increasingly to have become about how much stuff one owns and how prominent or superior one appears to others. I think that is changing as the folly of that mindset becomes evident in the current global financial crisis. Of course some people never embraced the low road, at least not to the extent that it destroyed their personal identity.
A neighbor just dropped by, after a quick call to me from the wife, with some gifts he thought I'd like: a couple of car magazines, some organic fruit and a few other goodies. It reminded me of one of those community college instructors I was thinking about recently. One of them mentioned in an economics class that there was no substitute for a kind gesture, no value could ever be assigned to taking a break from life to think about someone else. In other words, his message was that humanity and being humane was priceless.
My respect for that message grows with each day and each experience, as time passes. In all of the turmoil and disagreement and passion of life, I hope I do not forget about the value of those good neighbors and the value of my own role in nurturing that tradition as a member of a community, not just functioning as some pirate of life grabbing more loot than anyone else.