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.
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.