Is America Headed For Decline?
By Jeff Lukens

"What one generation allows in moderation," it was once said, "the next accepts in excess." This has certainly been true in America in recent years.

Anyone old enough to be raising children has witnessed firsthand the decline of moral standards since the time we were kids. It seems the time-honored notions of courage, honor, sacrifice, responsibility and decency have become a thing of the past.

Do I really need to give examples? Just turn on the TV to any sitcom and see for yourself. We've come a long way since Mayberry R.F.D.

For many, a healthy skepticism has morphed into outright "blame America first" for anything that goes wrong in the world. We are at war with the forces of evil, and many among us can't even identify what evil is. Many even cheer for our side to lose.

History has shown us that great civilizations pass through a succession of phases: From bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, and from dependence back to bondage.

We all know about the rise and fall of ancient Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, and a host of other civilizations over the past 5000 years. Success, no doubt, breeds complacency.

Call ours the "American Civilization." And what phase are we in now? Well, my heart wants to tell me we are somewhere between liberty and abundance, but my head tells me it is closer to complacency or apathy.

Until this time, each American generation since the founding has left this nation in a little better condition than they had inherited it from their parents. Looking ahead, the continuance of this trend seems doubtful.

Many virtues that have evolved over centuries formed the basis of our culture. We once admired the progress of humankind, the development of reason, the advancement of law and science, and the ideas of free markets and individual rights. In the U.S., the union of these ideas, and others, has allowed more people here to enjoy more wealth, opportunity and freedom than has ever been known on so vast a scale ever before.

We once believed duty and sacrifice were a virtue. Most of us respected people who were good, meritorious, and honorable. But these thoughts, of course, are now considered judgmental because they are based on differentiating right from wrong, correct from incorrect, and good from evil. Today, such talk is often dismissed as intolerance or bigotry.

In recent years, many have sought to dismantle the institutions and standards that have been the very basis of our success. Tolerance, which was once a good thing, has evolved into acceptance of just about anything, no matter how destructive or base it may be.

One part of this problem lies with multiculturalism, which suggests that all cultures are valid and equal, even those that wish to do us harm. It also suggests that heterosexual white men have established this society to dominate and oppress females, minorities, the needy, and people in less developed countries. Forced tolerance and political correctness over this nonsense have left many people confused about what really to believe.

Yes, we have had racial problems in our past. However, the wrongs of slavery and Jim Crow have been righted, and the time is way overdue when all should be judged by the "content of their character."

In our well-intentioned quest for equality, many standards have no doubt been reduced or eliminated. Much of today's crime, illegitimacy, drug use, and failing schools can be traced to a lack of personal responsibility. A failure to speak truth to individuals for fear of offending them, or affecting their self-esteem, is also to blame. These problems fester in black, white and Hispanic communities alike.

When discussions of right and wrong become incoherent, surely we invite chaos and disaster upon us.

The law alone cannot bring order and unity to society. Its foundation rests on the voluntary consent of its citizens. While the law often allows us to do as we please, a personal moral code inside each of us prevents us from contemplating, and committing what is rash or unjust.

President John Adams once said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

No society can survive without a consensus about what is right and wrong, and the only consensus that people in this land have ever coalesced around comes in the form of a Judeo-Christian morality. It is this moral consensus that made us successful. Tear this consensus apart for some half-baked philosophy such as multiculturalism, and decline awaits us.

You don't need to be a Founding Father to figure out that spiritual faith, courage and liberty are what make a people great. Once upon a time, we instinctively knew this. It is a lesson we need to relearn.



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Copyright 2000-2007, Jeff Lukens