March 29, 2006

Preservation v. Evolution

“These are the times that try men’s souls…” - Thomas Paine

A Professor of mine once said that Americans do not know how to entertain themselves. In complete honesty, I am thoroughly convinced that he is right. He continued his point by describing the streets of Rome or the taverns of the English countryside on any given evening, and by saying, “Everyone owes it to themselves to legally find a quiet pub in which to meet interesting people and enjoy a few beers.” Unfortunately, our generation has become exactly the opposite of this sentiment, as well as what any intelligent person fears-- a mass keg party with no sobriety of mind whatsoever. It is ironic; this nation that is infamous for being such an infusion of cultures has reduced social accomplishment and entertainment to mere drunkenness-- an outward symbol of an inward decay.
This is not at all a “phase“ that we will eventually grow out of, but an effect of something much grander in scale. We are not becoming better, nor are we simply going through a rough patch of morality. It is not just our generation that is like this, for the youth of today are the most prominent influence for the generation of tomorrow. A Soviet Communist Party Official once wrote, “If we could effectively kill the national pride and patriotism of just one generation, we will have won that country.” And so it is with this mindset of this carnal gratification. The more we nod our head in approval toward acts of the depraved, the more we kill national pride and patriotism within our generation.
We are leading our children to moral slaughter by our disregard for patriotism and morality (for, to have a high regard for patriotism is to have a high regard for morality). We are the example and epitome of depravity, but it does not phase us. We recede from the front lines of this war waged on moral corruption. We allow children (born and unborn) to die each day, we sit back and watch as teenagers throw away their lives for a moment of sexual gratification, we refuse to give money to the poor for fear that it might make us live with less than a brand new car and name brand clothes, we defile the institution of marriage under the guise of “civil liberties”, we tear mothers away from children in the name of “careers”, “feminine liberation”, and “equality”-- we do all of these things, claiming that “society is just moving forward.”
I will not accept this theory. While we are comfortable in front of our plasma screen televisions, sitting in our big fluffy armchairs, downing one shot of whiskey after another, wishing that we could be paid more because we’re women, asking the government to make it legal for a man to marry a man, standing behind our protest signs-- ignorant of what it means, or indolently preaching from pulpits tainted by complacency and deceit, the whole world is dying, and most of this death is at our hands, or at least the blood of it is on them.
These are our consequences to pay for our ignorance, arrogance, and love of convenience. But it is not the consequences we notice, only the discomfort caused by the thought that we might, in fact, be nothing more than spoiled American brats, with fathers who paved the way for our greatness-- American brats who decided long ago to make their own path (regardless of the effects), rather than follow tradition and virtue. This ideal is evident in every facet of the American life-- in our music, art, literature, poetry, architecture, ethics, politics, religion... We have no respect for the beauty of the traditional, and in turn, we create nothing but rootless pieces of emotional, adrenaline invoking drivel.
If America forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then will begin the rot and dissolution. - Carl Sandburg
We have turned into a terrific case of Attention Deficit Disorder. We cannot do anything that does not interest us, and we refuse to pay any mind to something that does not appear to be interesting at first glance. This is unnatural, in a way. Naturally, man is a curious creature-- one that will explore all possibilities unless he is distracted or contented by other things. He will not stop half-way and lose interest. We were created to learn, but our Americanism has stifled our passion for knowledge. Americanism has stifled our passion.
But is not passion the very thing this nation was founded on? A passion for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is what fueled our ancestors to give up all they had so that we could have everything-- and we do! Half of the world lives on less than two dollars a day. Our minimum hourly wage is $5.15, and we say this is not enough! We are the world’s greatest military power, and we complain about lack of national security during wartime! We have complete freedom of religion, but we form persecution complexes, rather than living by example and enjoying our rights.
“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.” - Thomas Paine

If we do make the final decision to veer away from the moral tradition set before us by our predecessors, we make the decision to live with the consequences of such a ridiculous choice. What is new is not always better, but we will always try it (however ridiculous it may seem) because the myth of “The grass is always greener on the other side” is the height of American logic. It is what we are best at thinking, and what we are best at practicing. Ironically, after 200 years of trial and error, we cannot come to terms with the possibility that maybe (just maybe) tradition is not the thing ruining our nation, and maybe it will not cure all of our ills to legalize same sex marriage or murder more unborn children. It does not occur to us that fixing small political glitches will not feed the hungry, clothe the poor, or heal the diseased, and no… it will not, in fact, save the world.
Americans do not deserve America. We have cheapened the beauty of our nation and it’s role as the defender of man’s true rights-- the right to live well and free within the guidelines of morality. We have weakened this morality as well as our resolve for these things in the process. There is no mistaking that the United States of America is a selfish republic of immature politicians, asking no more of the world and their fellow citizens than what would benefit them most. It is an art we have become so skilled in that we have managed to distance ourselves from nearly every other nation on earth. This is in no way good or safe.

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.” - Benjamin Franklin
In these days, every American wants to blame the troubles of America on every other American. Personal responsibility has been banished from our lifestyles. The inactivity of the American church is no longer the fault of inactive Americanized Christians. The corruption of the welfare system is not the fault of wealthy Americans who refuse to aid those less fortunate. The lack of civil rights is not the fault of an alienating people. No, instead, we blame the ACLU for our lack of Godly ways in America. We blame Democrats for the corrupt social welfare system we currently have. We blame Republicans for the absence of legal homosexual marriage in the majority of our state states. There is a scapegoat for everything, and Americans specialize in finding them where they are needed most.
What we fail to realize is, it is not everyone else’s fault. It is no one’s fault but our own. By the phrase, “Our own”, I do not mean America as a whole, but Americans as individuals. We have lost sight of the fact that all men are created equal, equal in every way. We are equal in our goodness and in our evils, and we are all guilty of diminishing the bright hope America could have.
Our problem is not with the ACLU, with the Republicans, the Democrats, the Christians, the Atheists, the Straights, the Gays, men, women, Yankees, confederates, baby boomers, Generation Xers, or any other social stereotype one can think of. Our sole problem lies in ourselves. Our issue is not one of politics, but one of moral tradition and the deep respect for it that we must hold if we are to reclaim this nation.

No comments:

On Aprils

Ten years ago, I sat in the dining hall of a Christian camp. A man my father's age sat with me. It was April, and I had no idea... I had...