What controversial issue do you believe is most important to society? What controversial issue do you believe is most important to society?  

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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While the proliferation of toxic chemicals in our homes and foods is a paramount concern; while the ghastly cost of political elections is of paramount concern; while global climate change is of chilling importance--especially now with the confirmation of new aspects related to the Sun's minimum-maximum cycle and Earth's axis tilt; while the proliferation of war is of astounding importance; and while I am greatly concerned about all of these, I might suggest that the teen-age pregnancy rate (which presuppose a male/female teen-age sexual activity rate) may be the most important one to address because it encompasses not only family issues, educational issues, medical issues, economic issues, and taxation issues, it also encompasses issues of human potential--for the teens involved and for the infants born--born very often into poverty and negated opportunities.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many important issues, but the one that's most important for society is the rights of homosexuals. Gay marriage, health care rights for same sex couples, adoption and just overall discrimination. To me, this is the last group that is regularly legally discriminated against. Arizona's racial profiling law for Hispanics is a close second.
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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I'm going to argue that it depends on what you mean by "important."  What controversy is currently most important to fight about?  What controversy will we look back on this time and realize was a major social or political focus?  What controversy will we still be fighting over in 10 or 40 years?

History has shown that the most "important" controversies to fight, were the ones where human life was in danger.  Here I think of our involvement in WW1&2.  On the other hand, there are those that are still arguing the US should have never involved itself in the conflicts in the Middle East.  Perhaps, instead, the abortion debate will one day be looked back on as a worthy cause.

I also wonder what medical controversies (today) will very possibly be the solutions to medical questions and potential cures.  Stem-cell research is highly controversial, as is genetic engeneering.  But what if scientists one day discover, through these pursuits, the cure for cancer, AIDS, or one of the many genetic birth defects?  Then, we'd be looking back and saying they were important medical controversies.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Thanks, brettd! I agree that climate change has to be an issue that should be on all of our radars. Whilst other issues such as the American financial crisis and so on are undoubtedly important, I believe that we are largely choosing to ignore a far bigger and much more catastrophic issue. The potential impact of climate change on our world is already being seen, and looks as if it can only get worse as things develop. Certainly we need to be facing up to the realities of climate change and the very many serious issues that these will create for us.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I would have to go with Climate Change on this one.  It affects every citizen in every country, and in fundamental ways such as weather and wind patterns, average temperatures, growing seasons, floods, snowpack, drinking water, species extinction, ecosystem disruption.  The list is endless.  While awareness of the issue is relatively high, very few nations are doing much about it, ours near the bottom of the list.  With the economy of the world in a shaky state, I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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My biggest problem these days is the United States' self-imposed yet unofficial role as the world's policeman for any international event that may creep up. Our economy has been shattered, to a large degree, from our ongoing presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. More important than the financial crisis that it has caused through the trillion dollar military expenditures, American lives are being wasted each day. Our most recent invasion into Iraq was completely unnecessary, brought upon by the Bush Administration's false promises of weapons of mass destruction, and I think these troops should be brought home immediately. The situation in Afghanistan is more complex and more warranted; I do find it necessary to deal with the terrorist activities that appear to be flourishing there and in Pakisatan. But America has become a hated figure of overbearing authority in the eyes of most countries--unlike our highly positive stature during the Reagan and Clinton Administrations--and I believe that we need to take care of our own domestic problems instead of deepening the national debt with the unending military spending in Asia.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This one will be all over the political map, so be ready.  In my mind, I think that the most controversial issue in the United States has to concern how the current economic crisis will be weathered.  The economic condition of the nation is going to be the defining issue in the 2012 Presidential Election, as it was in 2008 and was in the midterm elections of 2010.  It is so controversial because no particular candidate or party has captured the nation's imagination in presenting a solution to the problem.  It is also controversial because nearly every American, on some level, is impacted by it.  With unemployment failing to decrease significantly and with housing prices still nowhere near where they were prior to the economic crisis, these two sectors do a fairly good job of encompassing many.  Into this fray, issues like illegal immigration and health care are tossed into, adding even more intensity of debate and passion to a discussion that is filled to the brim with both.  The solutions that are being posited are varied, not necessarily made with sound economic judgment or principles in mind as much as garnering support, harnessing anger and frustration, and consolidation of power in a time where so few posess it in the face of economic reality.  It is hard to see a time when social issues are a distant second to economic reality, slowly becoming the only political reality of which to speak.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would argue that the most important controversy for our society today is the controversy over the proper role of government in providing things like Medicare.  The arguments over this continue even as our current system builds up a huge debt and seems to be unsustainable.

This problem has a huge impact on us all.  We have to decide whether we are going to pay higher taxes to provide ourselves with all of these programs or if we are going to pay lower taxes and do away with things like Medicare.  This is a fundamental issue for our society because it has to do with what role we think that government should play in society and the degree to which we think that people should simply fend for themselves.  It must be resolved because, as it is, we are trying to have low taxes and high levels of services.  This is unsustainable and is bankrupting us as a nation.

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