20th Century Social Movments
General Theme of Paper:
Combine our early documents of American culture and identity on freedom and equality and individualism & social commitment/responsibility in an evaluation of the historical periods of this course (i.e., the Gilded Age, Progressive Movement, and 1970 to the present). Have those American qualities been beneficial or harmful to Americans in our history? Have they held back American society from being the best society it might be, or, in fact, made us a better, greater society? How does one combine such views with a Servant Leadership vision?
Guiding Questions/Issues to Consider:
Recall the debate over which of our early documents– the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution– may rightly be considered our founding document. What was the debate generally? How did it partly revolve around the issue of debating the importance of individual liberty versus equality?
What documents speak to the American debate over the issue of individual freedom and responsibility versus American’s obligations to their society and government?
How strong a strain in American culture is our commitment to individualism? Do you see that trait of individualism as an asset or hindrance to the social good? To what degree?
Has American society trended too far in the direction of individual responsibility or community obligations to those in need in recent years?
Define clearly the meaning of Servant Leadership in your own words. How does that view affect one’s stance on these issues of social responsibility? How might it alter one’s position on how to proceed to correct any social ills which might exist?
Be sure to include pertinent reflections on how our service time impacts those opinions.
What are American citizens’ obligations to citizens like those in the Downsizing and Cowie books and the working class of the Gilded Age as represented by Crane’s Maggie? And, if there are obligations, how should those be carried out: by government, private charities and churches, private industries, single individuals not gathered into groups or associations?
Can the years 1980 to the present be rightly regarded as a New Gilded Age? To what extent might that be seen as a good or bad thing? Do you believe that the Progressive Movement was a positive, helpful response to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century?
Would it benefit our present society to have a modern-day Progressive-like movement for reform? If so, what are the principal areas which need redress? If not, explain why American society might be more harmed than helped by such a movement.