Note: This is as close as I ever intend to come to a “political” post. It is not intended as political. Please think of it as “observational”.
By America, I mean the United States of America. (Although, I think this problem extends far beyond our boarders).
When written, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America were like the founding documents of no other nation. The concept of Freedom introduced in these documents was unique to our nation.
However, freedom is ripe for abuse; and, without some moderating influence it would quickly become anarchy. Therefore, our Founding Fathers chose to voluntarily place us under a code of laws spelled out in the US Constitution. So, we end up as a Constitutional Republic with laws limiting our freedom. The original Constitution (adopted in 1788) was a relatively brief document, only four pages. The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1 through 10) were added in 1791 and added only another page to the original document.
Oh, that things were so simple today!
We have learned (or assumed?) over the intervening years, that it takes a lot of law to control a “free” society. (An interesting collision of words – control/free.) I doubt our fore-fathers foresaw – even in their wildest speculation – that we would be in the shape we are today regarding laws, regulations, requirements, etc. And, I think that the difference between then and now is that they understood to their very core that every law passed was a reduction of freedom. Yet, we must control our society …mustn’t we? It’s a dilemma.
I’m not saying that our founding fathers didn’t foresee problems for our republic… they certainly did. What I think these men did not foresee was the collapse of morality in America. I believe that most of the laws governing our society today are attempts to solve problems that represent, at their core, a slow but steadily increasing lack of morality within our society. America has lost it’s moral compass.
A quick look at three segments of our society will highlight the problem.
The general population: Crime, declining or a complete lack of “work ethic”, the collapse of family structure, abuse of children, human-trafficking, drug abuse, etc., all reflect a lack of morality.
The political system: The biggest concern on the mind of our elected “leaders” is, “…what will it take to get me re-elected?” or, “…elected to the next higher office?”. I assure you it is considered in every decision they make. Self and party are placed ahead of constituents, population and Constitution. A perfect example of this is when our elected representatives (House and Senate) pass laws for the general population, but exempt themselves and sometimes, favored support groups. Why is it that a Congressman or Senator can be turned-out of office after a single term (as little as two-years) and still receive a 100% funded, life-time retirement plan.
Our finance system: I believe Capitalism is the only economic model that can support our political model. However, capitalism is ripe for abuse. Wealth accumulation, if not capitalism’s primary goal, is a natural result. And, money tends to accumulate at (or near) the top of today’s corporate structures. It is immoral that a CEO can make literally tens of millions of dollars in a year when his company makes less in profit and hundreds, or thousands, of employees are laid-off. And don’t fall for the, “…our CEO is paid only one million dollars a year”. This is, in almost every case, intentionally deceitful. Last years average pay for the CEO’s of the 500 largest US corporations (many of whom have a salary of “only” $1.0 million) was actually $10.5 million. For the top five CEO’s it was $75.8 million… for one year. Questions such as, how can we meaningfully contribute to our society; and, what is best for our workers, our communities and our country seem not to be asked in the boardrooms. (Sometimes I have to question if they are even concerned about their own companies.) on the other hand, corporations are quick to point out their contributions to non-profits and charities; but, you can bet that those donations weren’t pure altruism. No, I’m afraid most of those contributions were made with the intent to also gain political influence, tax advantage, etc.
When I look at the above examples in all three segments of our society, one word jumps out at me… GREED. I’m number One. It’s all about Me and Mine. More money, more power, more influence, more adulation. I deserve it. More, more, more….
This is the attitude that is pushing morality out of America. It is pushing God out of America. It is destroying America.
Before we go one step further, I must make something perfectly clear. I am not a Socialist. I am not a Communist. I am not an Anarchist. I am not a Republican or Democrat. I am an American. I am a veteran. I believe in the Constitution. (No, I do not think it needs a rewrite!) And foremost, I am also a Christian.
I am using the word “greed” as it is defined in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. “Greed – a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.” (Italics mine. AG) I do not mean to imply that we should not save and invest for unforeseeable circumstances and for retirement. Nor, do I have a problem with personal wealth, per-se. But, we would do well to remember the many admonishments Jesus gave about how difficult it would be for the rich to enter Heaven. And, the “heads-up” we are given in Luke12:48d, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”. (NIV)
Statements I seldom hear when talking about money, houses, vehicles, boats, the latest electronics, etc., are, “…I have enough”; or, “…I’m content with what I have”. There seems to be a lot of confusion between “needs” and “wants”. Have you ever noticed how quickly a child moves from saying, “…I want it” to “…but, I neeed it”? (I spelled it correctly for how it’s pronounced in that situation.) It’s a lesson miss-learned, early.
It is my belief that God did not give Americans the opportunities we have enjoyed for the last 135 years just to watch us squander them over the last 60 or so. More law further restricting freedom is not the answer. And, the expansion of a government-dependent sub-culture will not fix our country. Actually, it is just another form of human trafficking driven primarily by those who wish to stay in office – no matter the cost to our Nation, it’s citizens, and the victimization of those enslaved.
I believe America has unlimited potential if we could only recover our basic moral compass. People must do what is morally right, because it is… morally right. Until Greed – in all it’s forms – is overcome; and, basic moral principles like Integrity, Conviction, Honesty, Responsibility, Charity and Honor, are re-established in our society, we will not – nor can we – fix our Nation.
I fear for the America which our forefathers established with their sacrifice of family, fortune and blood – and then, turned over to us.