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Disturbing signs that our society is beginning to unravel

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When I speak of the unraveling of our society I am referring to the current state of our society's values, including ethics, morality, honesty, integrity, civility and compassion for others. These values are currently under great duress in America today and that is a major contributing factor in our very obvious societal regression.

So what are the causes of this societal regression in America? In thinking about this, I am reminded of how America was once portrayed in the lyrics of America the Beautif ul, that patriotic song that describes America as a nation of lofty ideals, nobleness, brotherhood, mercy and liberty in law, which includes these phrases:

  • "And crown thy good with brotherhood"
  • "Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine"
  • "Till selfish gain no longer stain, the banner of the free"
  • "Till nobler men keep once again, the whiter jubilee"

Let's take those phrases and see how they relate to the American society and its institutions. Think about those words; do you feel that they describe the America of today? America has changed dramatically over the past decades and we have evolved into a totally different nation and society. Money and power have replaced ethics and morality as the driving forces in our society and they are, I believe, the root cause of the myriad of problems that we now face.

How do those words relate to the U.S. Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives? Well, let's see just how our elected representatives have been carrying out their responsibilities assigned to them by we the people. Not too well, I'd say. How many times have we witnessed acts of immoral behavior in the Congress such as: a senator or a U.S. representative, from either side of the aisle, exposed as an adulterer, or one who preys on young congressional pages, one who is caught lurking in a men's washroom, or one who gropes members of his staff?

Aside from these sleazy sex escapades, it is now almost common practice for our elected representatives to brazenly feed at the money-filled troughs set up by the banking, insurance or other corporate lobbyists at the same time they are working on legislation that directly affects those same special interests. It is no wonder that our Congress, especially the Senate, has lost its ability to address and solve the most critical issues that our nation faces. They no longer feel any guilt whatsoever in sacrificing their ethics and morals for personal gain while the Senate is in a state of gridlock.

What can we say about Wall Street and the entrenched robber barons who have become masters of the art of fleecing the American people? These scheming brokers, bankers, hedge fund managers and others that should be performing essential work for their clients in honest, ethical ways have, instead, become experts at manipulation and devious business practices.

They have little to no interest in ethics; they are obsessed with money and the power that goes with it. They receive massive unearned bonuses, stock options and other perks even as their corporations are failing in their responsibilities to clients. They are a prime example of "there is no honor among thieves." And it not just the top executives who disregard ethics. For example, documentaries of the Enron Corporation debacle clearly show that the scoundrels were not only Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay but also hundreds of traders who laughed derisively at those clients who, unfortunately, fell into the Enron web of deceit. The state of California was a major victim of their devious practices.

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Major transnational corporations, having outsourced millions of jobs overseas, are now trying to figure out how to sell their imported products from China and other Asian nations to unemployed workers. In the past three decades they have outsourced more than 10 million jobs to overseas countries in order to take advantage of low labor rates, no unions, and no health insurance. That was great short-term strategy on their part to dramatically increase their bottom lines but it was a suicidal act for the longer term. Who in the world do they expect to buy these imported products those same millions of workers that they forced out of work?

Now let's turn to the wacko/wing nut element stalking this society; Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Michael Steele, the Tea Party, state militias, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. They are the voices of the extremist side of America. They are very skilled at what they do; they are masters of twisted logic that know exactly how to cause unrest and dissension within that portion of America that is paranoid, angry, frustrated and so easy to influence.

America's wars are probably the most telling examples of how the issues of ethics and morals are rapidly declining in America. The verse "Till nobler men keep once again, the whiter jubilee" is actually a reference from the Christian Bible that describes "those who are moral and just, and deserving of wearing white." Does this reflect the moral and ethical behavior of those in governmental authority who have developed doctrines of pre-emptive military strikes, invasions featuring shock and awe and occupations of those nations in order to control and pacify their populations? Acts of nobler men?

Last but not least, the tremendous daily violence caused by the proliferation of guns throughout America has reached epidemic proportions. Just recently in Chicago, there were nineteen shootings and seven people killed by gunfire, all in one night. Chicago's mayor, Richard M. Daley, long a strong advocate of sensible gun control, vented his frustrations by stating that, and I paraphrase his words, "Americans kill Americans." Couple this society's current decline in morality and ethics with a pervasive gun obsession among the radical elements and you have a recipe for a potential modern-day Civil War.

Is this American society on an irreversible path whereby it will continue to unravel and regress? How do we stop this dangerous direction, how can we restore our morals, ethics, our civility and our compassion for others? Can we look to the leadership of America; our government, our educators and our religious leaders to lead us out of our current societal crisis? Those are difficult, complex questions but, unfortunately, ones without any substantive answer at this point in time.

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Michael Payne


Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense (more...)

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America has changed dramatically over the past dec... by michael payne on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 9:12:21 AM
America has never been a moral country.We wiped ou... by liberalsrock on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 9:49:56 AM
You are correct, America has never been a moral co... by michael payne on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 10:46:06 AM
In the time frame that you mentioned, you could at... by Matthew Peters on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 9:14:58 AM
These same polititians raise their Bible and procl... by Philip Pease on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 11:17:19 AM
From what I've seen and heard about Detroit, the m... by Matthew Peters on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 12:46:41 PM
The simple answer is "no", we cannot and must not ... by Mr Stq on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 1:17:52 PM
The only advice I can offer to you is to try to re... by michael payne on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 3:33:06 PM
Hmm.. Seems like a weird assumption for a journali... by Mr Stq on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 4:23:53 PM
You didn't answer the question, Are you doing anyt... by michael payne on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 5:26:46 PM
And I would add that writing articles that encoura... by robert run on Saturday, Apr 24, 2010 at 1:47:19 PM
I agree with the above.And I would add that writin... by robert run on Saturday, Apr 24, 2010 at 1:53:36 PM
Your list of society's values, including ethics, m... by Ken Scott on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 2:06:20 PM
is true but the question you ask has so many permu... by Archie on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 2:52:40 PM
You speak of "Democratic progressives trying to le... by Ken Scott on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 3:24:56 PM
country was founded is a nonexistant argument. Th... by Archie on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 4:05:30 PM
The premise at the basis of your position is that ... by WML on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 4:55:14 PM
In the absence of legal convictions of the suppose... by Ken Scott on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 1:33:20 PM
You and I both claim to love the Constitution. Si... by WML on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 2:15:52 PM
The Obama Dept of Justice can bring all the white ... by Ken Scott on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 3:15:08 PM
You make my argument with your logical contradicti... by WML on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 6:41:30 PM
I (apparently unlike you) was clear thinking enoug... by Ken Scott on Saturday, Apr 24, 2010 at 7:27:33 AM
called a red herring. You ignore the fact I butch... by WML on Saturday, Apr 24, 2010 at 10:47:31 AM
Part of the problem is the propaganda machine (che... by Debbie McKee on Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 at 3:10:55 PM
PLEASE READ The Critical Unraveling of US Society ... by MARGARET BASET on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 4:52:49 AM
inevitable consequences of any society. Religion... by MARGARET BASET on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 5:17:30 AM
for verbalizing what I have been thinking for so l... by Archie on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 10:42:22 AM
For the last ten years or so I've been expecting c... by Jeff Poster on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 7:55:53 AM
Fred Foldvary's Editorial:Going Fast, Last Planet ... by MARGARET BASET on Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 3:41:13 AM
I blame Christians for all of America's problems. ... by Donnie McLeod on Friday, Apr 23, 2010 at 11:13:59 AM
I don't know if we're really falling apart or are ... by Perry Logan on Saturday, Apr 24, 2010 at 6:12:06 AM
it is not only progressives who have been betrayed... by robert run on Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 8:42:42 AM
Are you actually commenting about the article "Dis... by michael payne on Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 12:26:24 PM
Dear Mr. Payne It may assist your ability to assi... by Peter Carson on Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 11:54:53 AM
Date Sent: 04/25/2010Subject: b*tching and moaning... by Peter Carson on Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 12:09:14 PM
Dear Mr.PayneThank-you for your return. It would a... by Peter Carson on Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 12:12:29 PM