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Commentaries and observations about the conflicting moral beliefs and psychological issues facing our culture.
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"AWAY WITH WORDS"
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8 August 2022
How Long Can We Wait ?
As an elder, I recall a time in America when shared values predominated. Family life was stable. We took responsibility for our behavior, and were accountable for what we said and did. Disrespectful children were corrected not only by their parents, but by neighbors and teachers. Police were respected, law upheld. Street drugs and gangs (children killing children) were unheard of. Violence was rare, vandalism rarer. People dressed neatly for church, not as if going to the beach or the gym. It was a time in America when:
- Moral self-restraint in word and deed was expected;
- People were never ashamed or hesitant to mention God;
- Patriotism and pride in our country were universal; military service was honored in every community;
- Parents (male and female) taught children that virtue and sin, right and wrong, were norms in family and community;
- Our leaders spoke openly about God’s hand in our Republic;
- Schools never extolled divisive racial ideas; teachers never exposed students to explicit sexual material (see below);
- We pledged unified allegiance to “one nation under God”;
- And a lot more . . . but you get the idea!
The Power Of Babble
This list probably sounds strange to today’s “enlightened” critics who accept and propagate ideas, such as:
- America is an evil culture;
- Religious beliefs are really Christian oppression;
- Traditional versions of American history are hypocritical;
- Those who resist “diversity, inclusion and equity” and changes in sex, race and gender must be “canceled”;
- We should defund police and ignore existing laws;
- Heteronormativity and belief in only two sexes are archaic;
- There are endless genders - and pronouns to match;
- Parents have no rights over their children;
- Man-woman marriage promotes male domination;
- Traditional family and fatherhood are oppressors’ tools;
- And so on ...
Our Struggle For Virtue
Is America evil? History tells us that some Americans have made grave mistakes (as humans do). Our nation’s record is not perfect, especially in light of the high moral principles of our Founders, some of whom strayed from the letter and spirit of their own idealism.
But there are vast differences between human error publicly corrected and deliberately repressive tyranny of regimes.
Human weakness and arrogance, cruelty and selfishness are recurring human traits – as are kindness, generosity, prudence, self-sacrifice, foresight and other virtues in our society.
Every person (and nation) is capable of great harm and great goodness. As Andrei Solzhenitsyn wisely says, the dividing line between good and evil runs through every human heart. Whether good or evil prevails depends on the character and intentions of people, individually and collectively. We always have choices.
History also tells us that no nation has faced its errors and striven to correct its errors as America has. Today’s distorted tirades against America deliberately perpetuate and maliciously exaggerate the worst in our American story.
These distortions are reprehensible cheap shots, yet they’ve caught on, and are deeply rooted in our culture. But they erode our moral infrastructure and our families, corrupt our children (see below) and erase the foundations of American life. They threaten America’s very identity.
Emphasis On Moral Traditions
I use the word “moral” with good reason. Why? Because life itself is - before all else - a moral reality, a moral experience. This means our choices have moral consequences for good or evil.
Let me explain how this truth applies to today’s dangerous changes.
We don’t usually think about it, but we live in a universe of moral choices and consequences - no matter how minuscule or distant these consequences seem to us.
The consequences of our words and deeds may be subtle or blatant, remote or immediate. We may persuade ourselves that what we say and do is fine. If others are offended, tough!
No matter how insignificant the consequences may seem or how vigorously we discount our responsibility for our behavior, the cumulative effect of our words and deeds on us as well as on other persons should not be minimized.
Our words and deeds influence others and ourselves. They both form and reveal our character. They affect our relationships in ways we may not realize, especially in family life, which is the center of moral learning.
Furthermore, by the very nature of human relationships, moral links and limits are always involved.
Relationships are moral connections because they always have moral consequences for better or for worse, for good or for evil.
The Moral Life
So, morality means we are responsible to God and to each other for what we say and what we do. That fact is a “given” in human nature; it establishes us as moral agents.
Our moral sensibilities, our character and the acuity (or dullness) of our conscience (i.e., our moral voice within) determine the quality of our relationships and the influence we have on others.
Our moral education begins in our relationships with family members. The consequences of what we say and do extend into various communities and influence our relationships in home, school, work, church, everywhere we go.
Even when we deny our moral responsibility, our lives still remain a moral reality. Our moral nature is defined by objective responsibilities, standards and limits, not by personal (subjective) urges or feelings nor by self-righteous impulses nor by glibly-marketed “causes.”
Life Is Not Neutral
Life is a gift - but some people find it difficult to acknowledge that we are created beings and are, therefore, dependent on God for our gift of life.
Since life is a gift, it should move us to gratitude over grievance, to humility over arrogance, patience over anger. Yet, some still bristle at admitting dependence on God. Perhaps they resist because God’s gift of life comes with objective moral standards and limits already built-in. Maybe these people do not like to admit they are not really in charge of everything (some people are like that, you know).
Nevertheless, it is true that when people come together (however briefly), their relationship (however superficial) already has built-in moral responsibilities and rights, freedoms and limits. These moral standards originate with our Creator, not with us!
Sure, we codify some of these standards in various ways (e.g., laws and customs, ethics and manners) but we do not make up these standards, we inherit them. Their vitality and utility become evident in due time. Eventually, they exert influence and dictate expectations and behavior (however subtly) in very community.
While some people resist acknowledging God, other people see their lives as sterile, empty, boring, indifferent, without purpose. They may look outside themselves (to work or to other people) for validation and meaning. This is a mistake.
It's not merely our activities which give our lives meaning and dignity. It’s our spirit of gratitude for life, our desire to be of generous service, our inner motive to extend kindness, our desire to seek Goodness, which change dull routine (even grief) into invitations to virtue and opportunities for meaning.
No life is useless - unless we choose it so. Life has a goal, a purpose. Nothing we do need be meaningless. Even our mistakes are sources of learning and change, hope and (best of all) trust.
Our private motivations, thoughts, attitudes, habits and actions contribute to our way of living, to our character, to the person we choose to be, to the habitual virtues we embrace in the silence of our hearts - wherein our hopes and ideals reside.
Thus, to refuse God due gratitude; to think of one’s life as meaningless; to think of oneself as a victim of fickle misfortune; to believe one’s existence is without consequence . . . is to enter the precincts of nihilism. That’s a dead end, leading to depression of soul, futility of heart and a bleak, humorless spirit.
So, what’s our best option?
To pursue moral maturity. And what does that entail?
Moral maturity comes as we attend to our responsibilities to God, to our own well-being (not selfishly but intelligently) and to the best interests of others … and we do this with gratitude.
Moral maturity seeks an answer to this question, “How might I be of benefit to others, even in the stillness of my routines?”
This question is the antithesis of self-consuming narcissism, an antidote to arrogance and vanity. To pursue generosity of soul and kindness of heart (however slight) is to choose altruism over selfishness, selfless generosity over bloated conceit.
Moral maturity grants true, authentic freedom - not counterfeit freedom which excuses abuse and revels in distortion.
True freedom is freedom from undue coercion, along with moral self-restraint. True freedom really means we have the right to follow the prompts of virtue - not vice nor error - without interference from the State or the unmerited intrusions of others – but within limits.
True freedom does not mean:
- Unrestricted license to do anything we want (popular today);
- We may attack America’s solid traditions (popular today);
- We are "free” to declare ourselves superior to deplorables whom we wish to cancel (also popular today).
Moral maturity occurs when we exercise our rights, honor our responsibilities and respect our limits. They are all in balance, as we aim at Goodness.
So, true freedom facilitates responsible behavior. It does not allow bizarre variants, does not support insulting, inane “causes” nor does it destroy long-established moral traditions.
- exists to achieve the objective goal of the common good;
- is not meant to be used to erase moral limits or to diminish self-restraint for the sake of a “social cause;”
- demands adherence to truth in our words, actions, and in our accountability to others;
- does not justify anger nor overthrow sound law or tradition;
- cannot be separated from our responsibilities to God, and our accountability to the community.
Moral maturity is the foundation of healthy family and community. A morally mature community does not seek to harm its members. We pass laws (speed limits) to safeguard citizens. This makes sense for individual welfare and for the common good.
BUT … we pass other laws to assure the right to kill defenseless unborn citizens, and call it “health care” or a “civil right?” This makes no sense; it contributes to cynical nihilism.
Clearly, our laws (and some thinking which inspires them) can be contradictory and confusing. Today, laws are disregarded even by lawmakers and by those sworn to uphold those laws.
The lesson for America is this:
We cannot rely solely on human laws to hold our culture together, to bring about moral maturity and to provide civic sanity. Laws can even radically polarize us, as we see vividly in America today.
So, some force stronger than law is also needed for the common good and for a morally cohesive culture – not to replace law but to add moral clarity to law’s limited suasion.
Our Founders knew this, but many Americans today forget . . . and this forgetfulness is perilous.
Law And Morality
In addition to law, then, we also need the objective standards and the vision provided by moral maturity, which is beyond human law and complementary to it.
If we are to achieve a just community, we need the insightful ground rules of moral virtue as we search for personal meaning and for the common good of all - including the unborn.
Without the added wisdom of moral virtue to guide us when human law fails, communities are destined to self-implode. Without moral restraint, people die and nations are devastated.
The interplay and balance of law and virtue in human community is uniquely expressed in our Declaration of Independence and in our Bill of Rights. This is (or has been, until recently) the basic message and abiding greatness of America.
And this message is now in serious jeopardy.
Cultural decay is evident in the ascendence of moral relativism, which leads to acceptance of toxic ideas and programs which are clearly corrupting, even to children, and in direct conflict with history.
If you doubt this, then look at the grammar school curricula in countless public schools (below). Children are now exposed to toxic information about our nation, each other and themselves.
v For example, the San Diego Unified school district has adopted principles of queer theory into its K-12 pedagogy. The intention is to destroy “heteronormativity” and teach new sexual identities, including “genderqueer,” “non-binary,” “pansexual,” and “two-spirit.” This curriculum begins in kindergarten - kindergarten.
In Illinois, poor student performance in public schools prompts a prominent businessman to write this recent critique:
“The future of America and the businesses so vital to our country are not going to be able to depend on an army of woke, Marxist-leaning, poorly educated people to achieve great ends. We need godly, well-educated, wise people who love liberty and this country. This is not what Illinois public schools are producing. Tragically, government schools don’t even strive to produce these kinds of students. It is time to exit Illinois public schools and pursue a growing number of vastly better options.”
In Portland, Oregon, the public school system now teaches its youngest children about “white colonizers” and exposes kindergarten children to “the infinite gender spectrum,” teaching tiny children that one’s sex is arbitrary. Tiny tots are given explicit illustrations of male and female genitalia. The word “boy” is now a “person with a penis.” “Girl” is now a “person with a vulva.”
The Portland curriculum gets far more graphic and extends all the way through grammar school. I shan’t go into further detail, but I suggest you read these articles.
Public School Pushes Graphic Sexual Agenda on Kinrgartners
In Portland, the Sexual Revolution Starts in Kindergarten
LA school district encourages teachers to reject gender 'binary'
It Is Time to Exit Illinois Public Schools: A Businessman’s Perspective
Words have power. In our culture today, emotionally-laden words are exaggerated to manipulate and popularize grave distortions about sex and gender, race and victimhood, history and science, parental rights and family, religion and America’s finest traditions.
Forces hostile to America now “weaponize” words such as “gender” over “sex.” Until recently, “gender” referred to grammar; now it’s a loaded word which denies the fact that there are two - and only two - sexes. This is propaganda, meant to corrupt traditional usage and achieve a deadly agenda which is, in fact, scientifically absurd and morally corrupt. But, somehow, many Americans still buy it.
This propaganda distorts truth and elicits emotional reactions rather than reasoned, logical responses attuned to facts, customs, science, faith, tradition and history.
Look at these evasive terms used to justify abortion and transgender surgery: “health care,” “civil rights,” “reproductive and gender justice.” These terms intentionally obscure the truth that abortion kills infants; transgender surgeries - often performed on confused children without question - are dangerous, irreversible, with lifetime consequences.
This is profound corruption, linguistic manipulation aimed at changing the hearts, minds, opinions and behavior of listeners, while deliberately demonizing those of us who defend the lives of the unborn and who warn of the dangers of transgenderism.
Public discourse today is littered with language which belittles, demeans and “cancels” opponents who value medical evidence. BUT when legislative, corporate, entertainment and educational “leaders” get on-board, vulnerable minds are targeted at all levels, even kids.
Those who oppose can be fined, even imprisoned. Physicians who object to abortion or trans-surgery for religious reasons may be forced to comply, in violation of their Constitutional rights.
Finally . . .
Associate Justice Samuel Alito recently spoke of “growing hostility” toward religion in the West. It is not merely indifference or ignorance; it is hostility to traditional religious beliefs which are not in sync with the new “moral code” in some sectors of America.
In the United States, he reminds us, religious liberty goes hand-in-hand with many other rights. This “growing hostility” towards religion threatens the protection of this sacred right across the country - along with a range of other fundamental rights.
Justice Alito says:
“The exercise of religion very often involves speech, a spoken or written prayer, the recitation of Scripture, a homily, a religious book or article. These are all forms of speech, also forms of religious exercise. If this sort of speech can be suppressed or punished, what is to stop the state from crushing other forms of expression?”
He also reminds us of the relationship between freedom of speech and freedom of assembly:
“Religious service in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple is a form of assembly. If a government can ban those assemblies, will it hesitate to outlaw others? On the other hand, if religious liberty is allowed, it will be harder for the state to restrict other speech and other assemblies.”
Justice Alito adds:
“As I think back, I also think ahead, and I wonder what historians may say centuries from now about the contribution of the United States to world civilization…One thing I hope they will say is that our country, after a lot of fits and starts, and ups and downs, eventually showed the world that it is possible to have a stable and successful society in which people of diverse faiths live and work together harmoniously and productively while still retaining their own beliefs,”
Let us pray we do not abandon these God-given, Constitutionally-affirmed moral and legal rights because of ignorance, passivity and indifference of some citizens.
Let us pray we do not relinquish our responsibilities and limits, our rights and true freedoms which - under God - define us as citizens and heirs of America’s Exceptionalism.