One of those bad boy bounty hunter reality cop shows was on the TV when I walked into the room. Of course, I got sucked into it for a moment before I gained the strength to propel myself from the room again. While staring at the TV, it occured to me that we tend to do what those around us do. We--corporately speaking--seldom rise above the general state of our peer group. I was reminded of the importance of the company that we keep.
Lincoln made this observation on the subject, in his Temperence Address:
"It is said by some, that men will think and act for themselves; that none will disuse spirits or anything else, merely because his neighbors do; and that moral influence is not that powerful engine contended for. Let us examine this. Let me ask the man who would maintain this position most stiffly, what compensation he will accept to go to church some Sunday and sit during the sermon with his wife's bonnet upon his head? Not a trifle, I'll venture. And why not? There would be nothing irreligious in it: nothing immoral, nothing uncomfortable. Then why not? It is not because there would be something egregiously unfashionable in it? Then it is the influence of fashion; and what is the influence of fashion, but the influence that other people's actions have [on our own]?"
February 22, 1842: Address delivered before the Springfield Washington Temperance Society [Collected Works, p. 277]