I think it's just more or less about perspective.
These kids I'm talking about - they were sitting in car seats back during the 9-11 timeframe. They're too young to remember that for a period of weeks thereafter the terrorist attacks - their parents would actually slow down to let traffic merge onto the freeways, or hold doors open for strangers walking into the local groceries, or actually make eye-contact with people and offer a sympathetic smile of encouragement or support.
And it's not just the kids, really... it's grownups too, but more so the kids these days. They've never entered into a time in their lives when relating to other people, be it because of a tragedy of some sort or some type of awareness that accompanies maturity, actually means something.
If NASA came out tomorrow and issued a dire warning that a near-earth object that they've been monitoring has a 95% probability of impacting the earth and decimating 50% of the world's population by the weekend - shit changes real quick. Suddenly it ain't about what I'm gonna wear to the homecoming football game, or which drinking buddy I'm gonna spend most of the weekend with while the wife sits at home and takes care of the kids.
Sadly, we only react when we're forced to, as if we've no other choice but to show some means of compassion and understanding because of looming circumstances. I know this to be true on a personal level, as I was awaiting a skin cancer diagnosis a little over a year ago. At the time I had no idea that my skin cancer was benign and not serious, yet every friend, relative or mutual acquaintance that was going through a much more serious bout with cancer suddenly grabbed my attention. Now mind you - once I learned my diagnosis wasn't life-threatening - I took a huge sigh of relief and thanked my Creator! But that great news didn't quell the enlightenment I suddenly developed for those who were not so fortunate in their own dire battles. It struck home. That could've just as easily been me - dealing with a malignant form of cancer and trying to somehow come to terms with how many reasonable days I had left on this planet with my family and friends and planning accordingly.
You know how you get perspective? Two ways. The first way is through your upbringing, how your parents raised you. Now maybe you didn't have the greatest parents, or maybe you did. Maybe they were so distracted with dealing with their own problems that they never took the critical time needed to educate you about the important things in life. On the flip side - maybe you had great parents. Maybe too great, in fact. Maybe they put more of an emphasis on making sure you were pampered and didn't do without versus conditioning you to appreciate things like wanting something bad enough to force you to go out and earn it versus having it given to you. Or maybe your parents instilled these values in you and for whatever reasons - you decided that it was just a lot easier to go with the flow of your peers and compromise everything you were taught growing up for an easier route. One thing is certain - very few of us did a thorough job effectively communicating the importance of things like respect, decency and hard work to our offspring. We see that every single day.
The second way - life experience... being subjected to a crisis that changes your entire outlook on things. Maybe it is a cancer diagnosis. Maybe it's a wife or husband who one evening sits down at the dinner table with you and says, "I'm not happy, I no longer wish to spend the rest of my life with you, I want a divorce." Or maybe the loss of a child. Or maybe the loss of a job that you've held for 25 years. Whatever it is - it impacts everything you knew to be true and real...
Again, I don't hold this current generation entirely accountable. A majority of the time, the attitudes of kids today are a direct reflection of the attitudes of those who raised them.
So until we are threatened with a likelihood of extinction or some other type of life-changing matter, we shouldn't expect much to change.
Throw in todays societal political differences and the fact that too many people are eager to place blame on others rather than themselves for their own shortcomings in life - we are where we are. To expect anything different would be absurd.