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The rapid decline of culture in the last half of this century has turned commonplace civilities into wondrous rarities. Here is my list of nominees for "The Seven Social Wonders of the Modern American World."

The first wonder is a child who behaves respectfully toward adults. The children of the rich are so indulged and the children of the poor so neglected that few can keep a decent tongue before their elders.The second wonder is a man who recognizes a woman's work with children. Men so distance themselves from the chore of child-rearing that few understand the multifaceted skill and tremendous physical effort required to do the job well.

The third wonder is a woman who openly appreciates a man's equitable ways. Women so resent the abuses of patriarchy that they refuse to trust even those men who have no part in such abuses.

The fourth is a working person who saves a paycheck. American men and women are notoriously poor planners and manically materialistic, preferring to consume now what they should be saving for the future.

The fifth wonder is a parent who instructs his own child. Parents have gone so far in delegating the task of education that the only regular contribution many are willing to make is to brake for kiddies at the school crossing zone.

The sixth wonder is a citizen who watches over the neighborhood and the government. Unless neighbors go to church or group therapy together, they typically know little about one another and even less about the shenanigans their elected officials are currently pulling.

The seventh wonder is an adult who spends off-hours time gaining more knowledge about life on the planet. For all too many, continuing education is reduced to the act of memorizing folk wisdom gleaned from tabloid magazines or the sports section of the newspaper.

Kim Shinkoskey

Salt Lake City