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Hard Times and Acceptable Behavior

Copyright February 2, 2013 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.


During the past forty years our world has been gradually and systematically transformed by technology and improved communications.

Some changes, such as fuel efficient automobiles, personal computers, and advances in medicine, have been beneficial to the economy and to the well-being of society.

But some changes have not been beneficial.

The purpose of this article is to briefly look at how "acceptable behavior" has been redefined over the past forty years.


Mask When I was young there was a very clear distinction between heroes and villains.

For example:
  1. In western movies the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats.
  2. In crime movies the police were the good guys and the gangsters were the bad guys.
  3. In science fiction movies the witch or the vampire or the devil was always evil and everyone knew it.
  4. In comic books the superhero, such as Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, was always helping people and everyone appreciated his or her help, including the police.
Today anyone can be a hero and anyone can be a villain depending on the fictitious situation and the characters created by the movie director or the book author.

For example:
  1. In western movies the bank robber can be the hero and the sheriff can be the villain.
  2. In crime movies the thief can be the hero and the FBI can be the villain.
  3. In science fiction movies the wizard or the ghost can be the hero and an ordinary person can be the villain.
  4. In comic books the superhero is frequently not understood by anyone and most people, including the police, want him captured and put in prison.
Some people may see this as being humorous, or as simply being representative of the modern world in which we live.
But if you were a young person and your role models were bank robbers, thieves, assassins, and demons, then what impact do you suspect this would have on your beliefs as your matured into an adult?
What impact do you suspect this will have on society in general?
Will the society in which we live become more or less peaceful?

Lying, Cheating, and Stealing

Some people are very ethical, moral individuals and they obey the fair and just rules of society.
On the other hand, some people will break any rule they can get away with.

At the current time some children, some teenagers, and some adults have the following philosophy:

Lying: If you don't get caught then it isn't lying.
Cheating: If you don't get caught then it isn't cheating.
Stealing: If you don't get caught then it isn't stealing.
Murder: If you don't get caught then it isn't murder.

Individuals who believe the above are not adding to the harmony and prosperity of a society.
Instead they are consuming resources that were earned by the honest hard-working people within a society.

Video Games

Some video games are simply entertaining, such as most card games.
Some video games are educational, such as games that teach spelling, or math, or geography.
Some video games are violent and you must kill zombies or enemy soldiers.
Some video games are evil and to win the game you must steal, and you must injure or kill innocent people, and you must avoid or kill the police.

If you are caught or you are killed during a violent video game then can simply press reset and you get to try again. In other words, there is no penalty for wicked behavior.

What long-term impact do you think violent video games are having on the harmony and well-being of the society in which we live?

Assassins and Hit Men

Have you noticed that there are an increasing number of movies that have an assassin or a hit man (or hit woman) as the hero of the movie?

The society in which we now live glorifies assassins and hit men and our young people see these individuals as heroes and role models.

Please stop and think about this. Society has defined an acceptable role model as someone who kills another person from ambush, without mercy, and without giving the other individual any chance to defend himself or herself. This cold blooded killer is not only a role model but he or she is also well paid and is admired by others.

The entertainment industry has defined these killers to be independent individuals who can accept or reject any assignment they wish. By allowing the killer the right to only accept the contracts on people that he or she believes should die, the entertainment industry is deceiving us into believing that these people have a code of ethics and that their code of ethics is an acceptable way to live. In other words, any killer has the right to decide who lives and who dies and his or her decision is final.

What long-term impact do you think these movies are having on the harmony and well-being of the society in which we live?


The purpose of this article was to encourage you to think about the types of behavior and the role models that our society now considers to be acceptable.

If the hard times continue to get worse and worse, how will these new role models impact the neighborhood in which you live?

Are you intellectually and emotionally prepared for the way that some of your friends (or family members) may behave during a serious hard times event?

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