"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
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
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.