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10 February 2021
America At Risk
After decades of percolating in our cultural shadows, several powerful social movements have finally emerged to generate major social and moral changes in America.
These changes have enormous impact on the basics of American life, including the words we use in daily conversation and the very meaning of human nature, personal identity -- and life itself.
These changes also have profound – profound -- effect on our children. These changes now dictate the path which America is following into our moral and political futures.
Here are some changes we now behold in America’s daily life:
- Unheard-of censorship is leveled especially against pro-life and religious groups which object to the “normalization” of transgenderism which, through chemical and surgical means, inflicts life-long damage on children;
- Religious denominations which do not support “gay marriage” are labeled “hate groups;”
- Endless comments are now common about the evil “white race” and the “systemic racism of white privilege;”
- Explicit sex education is pushed upon grade school youngsters, whose parents often remain uninformed about race-sex-gender emphases in public education … to the detriment of essential academic curricula;
- Many benefits of citizenship are afforded illegal aliens - a term which itself offends current fads of “equity” (not equality) and “inclusion;”
- Defunding police departments by government officials has furthered disrespect and scorn for established law:
- In the midst of a pandemic and an economic crisis, our revised border policy now welcomes non-citizens:
- Accusations of racism, hate speech and gender warfare are leveled against Christians who oppose taxpayer-funded abortions in America and abroad;
- Banning by sports and entertainment celebrities of our National Anthem as divisive and polarizing.
These are a few of the social, cultural and moral changes which are re-defining the identity and nature of our American reality and the soul of our nation.
Some people greet these changes with enthusiasm. Others see these changes as a death knell for America as we have known it.
The Triumph of Individualism
Many factors - historical, political, philosophical, religious – contribute to the ascendance of these ideas. They were given summary expression by the Supreme Court in 1992 when Justice Kennedy (“Planned Parenthood v Casey” with other Justices concurring) declared that at the heart of our Constitutional liberty is “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
On the surface, this opinion sounds persuasive. We all want to be “happy” and “free” and live on our terms. But, realistically, the exercise of all human freedoms requires 1) objective standards which oblige all citizens, and 2) individual self-restraint which is absolutely necessary to assure equality and peace. This is true of nations as much as it is in family life.
Problems emerge when we pursue “happiness” on our own terms, without reference to:
- clear moral principles, civic virtue and voluntary self-restraint to guide and protect us all;
- mutually-accepted behavioral limits and common purposes to unify us;
- enforced laws to guarantee common responsibilities and rights, and to secure mutual justice for self and others.
Without these safeguards, each person becomes a law unto him/herself. Even babies in the womb and born-alive children are now disposable, as the rule of radical individualism weakens our nation.
A Nation In Conflict
What we see today is a profound moral and cultural conflict. We are involved in the aggressive rise of “woke” beliefs in which words are “weaponized” and civility is jettisoned.
No corner of our society and no law of Nature – not even a child’s right to life or the innocence of our children or our reverence for traditional home-and-family – are now sacred.
Traditions of long-standing are now banished, differences punished. Vengeance has become a political tool. Hostility and hollow accusations are adorned with the hue of pseudo-virtue.
The unthinkable has become our national norm.
Among the significant social movements which have infected our culture over the last five decades is “Therapeutic Ethics.” This term refers to the codex of beliefs and practices which proposes “self-defined individual happiness” as the ultimate goal of life.
Therapeutic Ethics grants individuals the sole right to determine what “happiness” and “creation” and “self” mean for him-or-her. Prior categories of learning and decision-making (e.g., morality, family, school, church, etc.) are obsolete. Belief in divine intervention in human affairs is eradicated.
Only the individual and his/her like-minded colleagues (and, in time, the courts, media, corporate leaders, schools, even some churches) decide what’s real and what’s not, what’s moral and what’s not, what socially acceptable and what’s not.
How has this state of radical individualism been achieved and how is it now being maintained?
Therapeutic Ethics encourages the individual to re-define for himself (or disregard entirely) the validity and relevance of scientific, moral and cultural standards of right-or-wrong, of truth-or-falsity, of fact-or-bother.
Previous cultural restraints and linguistic norms, moral traditions, scientific evidence, religious beliefs and legal limits (i.e., the Constitution, the Ten Commandments, legal precedents, biological facts) are passe, seen as obstacles to individual “happiness.”
Long Time Coming
Therapeutic Ethics has been many years in coming to fruition. It was given a significant boost with the rise and popularity of the so-called “Human Potential Movement” in the mid-1950s.
The Human Potential Movement celebrated the life of the "emotions" and the unrestrained expression of “feelings” distinct from -- even antithetical to -- various cognitive faculties of mind and intellect (including conscience) and millennia of traditions embodied in Western learning and culture, religion (especially Christianity), education and family (these, for starters).
In fact, Therapeutic Ethics validated unguarded expressions (often impulsive and deliberately repressed) of individual feelings and instinctual urges. “If you feel it, say it” was a requirement for a healthy personality: "How one feels defines who one is." Head-trips (i.e., self-restraint, civility and moral conscience) were anathema.
The unfettered expression of personal "feelings" without critical analysis – and, often enough, with the use of mind-altering drugs - has been consistently emphasized. The mantra of "Let it all hang out" eclipsed traditional moral and social restraints, and, as we now see, eventually sapped traditionally-accepted norms.
Radical individualism has even led to the destruction of the traditional family, the rejection of human biology and the abortion of many millions of our youngest citizens.
Some Basic Beliefs
The First Principles of Therapeutic Ethics include these ideas:
- Feelings are good, restraints harmful;
- The individual's freedom to express his needs without being judged is paramount to psychological health;
- If one is restrained by any traditional norms, the norms must be changed or done away with;
- The culture, not the person, must conform to the new morality as defined by “woke” individuals and supportive social agents;
- The process of living emotionally “free” is more important than commonly accepted norms of culture, church and society;
- “Character” is a fluctuating concept, often a moral and social trap meant to confine the person;
- Traditional morality (especially Christian morality) is a conceptual restraint manufactured by religion and society to keep people enslaved;
- A person’s personality has been wounded (often gravely) by parents, church, school and agencies of socialization which stifle our ability to "feel" and express our emotions. “Healing” is essential in order to become one’s “true self.”
- Judging people and holding them responsible for their actions is a manipulative device used by authority figures to invade psychic space of others and infiltrate their unconscious minds with controlling and self-defeating thoughts.
- Minorites (especially Blacks and women) reveal the victimizing impact of traditional family and religious methods of Western, male-dominated, white racial and sexual control.
- Whites are guilty by birth; males are inherently evil.
Whew !! … But There’s More…
The fallacies of Therapeutic Ethics found ready reception in our fluttering society during the 1960s and ensuing decades, particularly during the eras of demonstrations for civil rights and woman’s liberation. As one might expect, distortions, exaggerations, violence and abuses were not uncommon, and the aura of “victimization” became the launching pad for radical notions of “civil rights” and a litany of America’s contrived evils.
At the same time, higher education became the major vehicle for the introduction of atheistic Marxist-socialist ideas into our culture (see the influence of the Frankfort School).
Today, the pattern of destruction for our society occurs along these lines:
- Use the System against itself, as a means to weaken citizen’s pride in their nation and eventually to overthrow it.
- Appeal to victimized minorities – both legitimate and feigned.
- Magnify absurd demands and minor frustrations into sources of human rights deprived.
- Exaggerate the application of just laws (e.g., immigration, the use of “male” and “female”) as examples of racial, sexual and class injustices.
- Sow strife and instill discord under the guise of victimized righteousness, no matter how bizarre (e.g., transgendered “rights”).
- Condemn the constraints which law imposes and accuse police of consistent brutality, even when untrue.
- Heighten the duplicitous validity of anger and resentment as reasons for lawless civil rights demonstrations and “justifiable” rebellion.
- Promote disregard of existing laws even amongst lawmakers and elected officials (e.g., “sanctuary cities”).
… And More …
Over decades, the idea grew that those who inhabit academe (the educational Illuminati) and the political spectrum are the only validly informed agents of social and moral change. Some educators militantly (and erroneously) stated that academic freedom allows educators to act independently of traditional learning content and religious fervor.
Thus, educators could instill generational change without the delusions of religion, outworn patriotism and other traditional and religious concepts encoded in language, law, custom and history.
This practice is, of course, blatant abuse of academic freedom … yet it thrives in American universities and lower grade schools to this day, turning much of education into propaganda.
In addition, various corollaries arose from the First Principles of Therapeutic Ethics. For example, some people preach that:
- Caucasian men (or "the Establishment") are, by their very nature, “white male supremacists” intent on victimizing minorities.
- Churches, especially the Catholic Church, developed moral codes to enslave whole populations. They are the “enemy of the people.”
These ideas are now codified in some businesses, educational institutions and churches, giving added impetus to the belief that accountability is less important than self-expression, and that self-restraint and moral tradition are impediments to achievement, civil rights, freedom and "self-esteem."
For example, in the educational world, many unthinking Americans have mistaken “self-esteem” (a corrupting concept to begin with) for “self-respect.” Some school children advance without learning academic basics or facing the essential realities of healthy competition. In some schools, student are awarded for achieving nothing, lest their tender psyches be bruised by reality.
Still, the Liturgy of the Victim and the Vocabulary of Victimhood are solidly established in the marrow of those who indict America of “systemic racism.”
Indeed, the clamor about everlasting “victimhood” (either from those claiming personal victimhood or those hangers-on in empathic sync) has given rise to the triad of guilt -- race, class and sex/gender -- for which America is now blamed even by an increasing number of our own benighted citizens, including elected officials.
Therapeutic Ethics also gave rise to “non-judgmentalism,” a way of condemning the essential human process of judging others (a form of victimizing) for their behavior.
The corrosive “non-judgmental” myth says that holding persons responsible for their actions harms their psychic growth and happiness. It is wrong to judge anyone for what they say or do … unless the person says something which offends a politically-active minority.
And Let’s Not Forget Politically Correct Dogma
We must also consider “woke” adherents of political correctness who say that judging others for what they say or do is itself a moral evil. They do not distinguish between necessary judgments and fact-less accusations.
Therapeutic Ethics draws much energy from political correctness. To ease the "victimhood" of Blacks, women, homosexuals, transsexuals and any other “victimized” class, politically correct people keep an ever-watchful eye on every corner of our “un-woke” culture in search of victimizing perpetrators.
The politically correct notions of Inclusion without Qualification, Moral Equivalency, Selective Non-Judgmentalism, sanctimonious Selective Rage and the Deconstruction of Language and Moral Meaning are everywhere to be seen and heard. Our public discourse in politics, entertainment and even in informal conversation has become accusatory, often unrestrained, hardened and bitter. Standards of objectivity and fairness are often overshadowed by the condemnatory rhetoric of race, class, and sex-gender. Even family is not a safe zone any longer.
Rather than actually "healing" our culture, we have spawned an extensive, irrational public pathology. One example: consider the plethora of silly, self-descriptive pronouns which now abounds. A person who is dissatisfied with his/her/its gender or sexual identity now chooses from a truly bizarre list of pronouns (“zhi,” “zher,” and many, many more).
In the judgment of many persons, this is a display of narcissistic dissatisfaction with some aspect of self; a travesty of the sanctity of the person, an abuse of individual freedom. It is certainly not “social justice” achieved, nor a “civil right” earned or a “human right” triumphant. It is vandalism of reason and language, a form of self-obsession beyond parody.
Finally . . .
Human beings are given the ability to reason, to think rationally on the bases of facts and evidence. It is tragic when we act contrary to our essence as rational beings or disregard the best traditions of our culture.
Feelings and emotions certainly have definite role in the healthy lives of all of us. But feelings and emotions must serve us in conjunction with, and subservient to, reason and knowledge, facts and evidence, experience and empathy … and, hopefully the virtue of Prudence and the gift of God’s instilled wisdom.
Human nature is not -- is not -- free of innate limits and laws and responsibilities imposed upon each of us by God. It is obvious that when we disregard inherent limits of our created human nature and ignore proven guidelines for social sanity and cultural health, we do indeed unleash the worst within self and society. However, even though human nature has its particular weaknesses, we are not - thank God – condemned by our compulsions or fated to act upon our raw instincts.
Certainly, American history reveals grave mistakes made by our leaders and our ancestors – and ourselves. However, this is not a result of America but of us, of our human weaknesses.
Yes, we are all blessed with reason and guided by natural law, but we are also capable of grave error and sins of selfishness and acts of incalculable unkindness and downright evil. Yet we always have a free choice about which path we shall follow – the choice to seek a better way forward, or to continue to go woefully astray.
America -- as I have known it and loved it in my lifetime -- is the best way forward, even if some of us disdain our nation’s uneven but human struggle for goodness; even if some of us refuse to learn from history and reject the power of our own example.
In our present wayward distress, I pray we shall not seek to destroy what can unite us; shall not seek to poison what can heal us; shall not seek to banish God’s wisdom from our hearts and minds and, in so doing, condemn ourselves to the nihilism which now looms over us with unforgiving ferocity.
I wonder each day when and how – or even if -- we Americans shall ever again embrace and observe the limits of our own human nature and respond in faith and humility to the expectations of our loving, ever-patient God … and realize how grateful we should be to live in this blessed nation. I wonder……
We shall see……………. We shall indeed see…………..