Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Protestant Work Ethic?

Wow.  So my boys were watching WETV tonight, and catching up on some old Remington Steele episodes.  I have to admit, my boys are cool.  From loving Casablanca or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, to being able to recognize Andy Griffith Show episodes within minutes, they have amassed quite an appreciation for life before CGI.  Don't worry, they know enough of the latest blockbusters and what's happening in the world of kiddom to speak to their peers.  But they bring a broad and varied set of likes and interests  including watching Shakespeare (and reading it, too), along with the usual Saturday morning cartoon fare.

Anyway, so we're watching an episode, in which the lead character, Laura Holt (played by Stephanie Zimbalist) is conversing with a potential client.  During the dialogue, the man she is speaking with says that, unlike Mr. Remington Steele (the enigmatic figurehead of the P.I. firm played by Pierce Brosnan), he is a successful introvert, who still believes in the Protestant Work Ethic.  In response, Ms. Holt responds by saying that is pretty much how she sees herself.

Did you get that?   It about knocked me off my chair.  Someone on Network television, as late as the mid to late 1980s, was still referring to the Protestant Work Ethic in a positive light, and the lead heroine - who was quite the role model for women at the time if memory serves - was willing to claim that as a positive trait.  At least there was no jeering, sneering, mocking, or derision.  Can you imagine that today?  I wonder if the term Protestant Work Ethic were used today if half the audience would even know what it meant.

This was brought home to me as my sons, in discussing one of their school assignments, continually spoke of America as once being a major world power.  Once being a major world power.  Attention adults: the youngsters coming up in the world already see our nation as a has-been nation.  Any notions that they are bewitched by some illusion of American greatness should be all but dashed on the rocks of their easy assumption of America's descent.

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