DEAR READERS: In late October, I printed a letter from "Tab in Swansea, Ill.," who asked what I perceive to be the main problem in society today. I responded that, as my column reflects, there is more than one. Then I asked what you, my readers, think is society's greatest problem -- and the roof fell in! Your response was enormous, and I wish I could share all of it, but space does not permit. Today and tomorrow I'll print a sample:
DEAR ABBY: The main problem in our society today is lack of personal responsibility -- from the deadbeat dad to the CEOs of major companies manipulating financial statements for personal benefit. Our society will prosper only if we all take responsibility for our actions. -- MARK IN WEST ALLIS, WIS.
DEAR ABBY: It's greed! The unwillingness to consider how our behavior affects others. We have become so obsessed with material things and a "what's in it for me" mentality that we have forgotten to live by the Golden Rule. -- JUDY IN WICHITA, KAN.
DEAR ABBY: Society's greatest problem is intolerance. It breeds all the other problems. We're intolerant of other people's views, religions, looks, sexual orientation, languages, mode of dress, career choice, whether to parent -- or not. We're in the business of NOT minding our own business. -- MARILYN IN THE GARDEN STATE
DEAR ABBY: It's apathy ... but, who cares? -- MALCOLM IN MIAMI
DEAR ABBY: It's the breakdown of the nuclear family and lack of good parenting. I didn't even know divorce existed when I was growing up. I now work in a high school and see dozens of kids in trouble each day because they don't have proper role models at home. We see girls pregnant beginning at age 14, and the parents just shrug it off. Rude, violent kids were the exception when I was young. Kids today are not loved and watched over. If parents were like they used to be, this would be a safer, saner place. -- MARY IN LAS VEGAS
DEAR ABBY: Technology has outstripped our growth as human beings. People's basic nature hasn't changed much in the last few thousand years -- what we want, need, fear and hate are pretty much the same as they have always been. But in the last 100 years or so, we have gained global abilities. We've created the technology to destroy our planet but have not developed the corresponding maturity -- either as individuals or societies -- to handle the abilities we've developed. -- NAOMI IN BERGENFIELD, N.J.
DEAR ABBY: It's the personal isolation of people today. Business people will not answer their telephones and speak directly with customers. Individuals won't answer their phones at home, but do respond to e-mail and text messages. A generation has been schooled to keep a cell phone glued to their ears at all times instead of communicating face-to-face.
If Darwin was right, future generations will no longer require a tongue because we will no longer converse. Instead, we'll grow extra fingers with which to type and text. -- RON C., SOULSBYVILLE, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: The answer to your question is fairly simple. There's no respect, no discipline, no courtesy and no consideration for others. Is my opinion politically correct? No. Am I right on the money? Yes! Thank you, Dr. Spock. (PC is not my strong suit.) -- GARY IN ROCKWALL, TEXAS
DEAR READERS: Hang on ... there's more tomorrow.