Perspectives on Priorities

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Two weeks ago I wrote about my views on the legalization of marijuana. I am against it for many reasons, but focused my comments on the research related to marijuana use and the lack of academic success and dangerous behaviors.

While I am never really sure how many people read my blog, I typically receive a good number of comments through emails and phone calls each week. But my blog on legalization of marijuana resulted in an exponential increase in responses. A majority of responders agreed with my position, some even providing additional data, research and anecdotal information supporting my view. But a good number disagreed and thought my view was unrealistic, archaic and a few words I can’t include in this blog.

In the week after my blog appeared, I received the results of the most recent survey conducted by Gallup regarding the “most important problem facing the U.S.”  As I read these results, it struck me that my priorities related to societal concerns are significantly different than most Americans. And this has been true for some time.

Gallup conducts this poll monthly. They use very credible research techniques … random sample, sufficient number of respondents, respondents from every state, unbiased questions. And for the past several years, the results have been consistent. While the rank order has changed slightly, the most important problems cited by Americans are:

-       “dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians/poor leadership/corruption/abuse of power”

-       “the economy in general”

-       “unemployment/jobs”

-       “poor healthcare/hospitals/high cost of healthcare”

-       “Federal budget deficit/Federal debt”

But in all of these studies, amongst the least important problems cited are:

-       “lack of respect for each other”

-       “poverty/hunger/homelessness”

-       “education/poor education/access to education”

-       “ethics/moral/religious/family decline”

-       “dishonesty”

While I understand the concern for economic issues, I believe that there are fundamental problems in culture and society that are eroding our sense of ethics, morality, civility, community, respect and the concern for the Common Good. In his Apostolic Exhortation entitled “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis writes, “The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges” (No. 218).

I agree with Pope Francis. But apparently, according to Gallup, more Americans do not. What do you think?

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

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Guest Tuesday, 29 July 2014