106. Future View. "Individual Rights and Community Responsibilities," The Futurist, (November-December 1993), p. 64.


Historians will look back on the 1990s, I believe, and see them as a period in which the reconstruction of American society took place. The United States is beginning to experience a movement from "Me-ism" to a commitment to the "We." From a preoccupation with rights, American society is moving to demand that people shoulder their responsibilities and pay greater attention to the needs of their families and communities.

A few examples make the point. More and more U.S. states demand that those who receive welfare seek work, and if they cannot find work, they must perform some kind of public service. Americans are increasingly expected o drink in moderation and avoid smoking in order to reduce the burden on health care. Deadbeat fathers are being persuaded with new vigor to support their children. There is a new willingness to face the deficit in the national budget, and there is also an increase in the number of people who vote.

Standards in schools are beginning to rise. Many schools have dropped the notion of automatic advancement from grade to grade. The concept of minimum competence as a requirement for graduation is catching on. By the end of the decade, I believe, fairly stringent national standards for education will be in place. Such standards will encourage schools to aim higher and spotlight those that do not.

The grand debate about the future of the family will lead to new efforts to enable parents to attend to their children. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which now covers only those who work for larger companies and grants 90 days of unpaid leave will be extended, I predict to cover all Americans and grant them six months of paid leave--as is the case in most of Europe--by the year 2000.

Nonetheless, I believe that the United States will face more urban crises, such as the one in Los Angeles, and that the nation will not be immune to the worldwide drift toward tribal conflicts, already affecting 23 countries. Americans need to rebuild not just their communities, but also the ties that bind communities into one overarching society.

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