AMERICA'S MORAL VALUES WORRY EVERYONE
By Alan Caruba
I am, moreover, suspicious of people who harangue the rest of us for our bad behavior when, it seems, they often end up being exposed as hypocrites. That said, I think we need our priests, our pastors, and our rabbis to remind us of how beneficial a life devoted to clean thoughts, good deeds, and proper behavior can be.
My attention was drawn to the issue of morality in America by a Washington Times article titled, “Americans See Media Aiding Moral Decline.” A group called the Culture and Media Institute of the Media Research Center had released the results of a “National Cultural Values Survey” that concluded the current “culture war” is grounded in “disagreements over religious issues.”
Considering that more than a billion of our fellow inhabitants of planet Earth are Muslims and that a significant portion of them are said to be repulsed by the sexual mores they see in American movies and television, this issue takes on considerable importance because, should the Muslim extremists have their way and succeed in fulfilling their chants of “Death to America,” a strict interpretation of Islamic, or Sharia, law would be imposed on the entire world.
Sharia law is not merely harsh. It is often barbaric.
Of course, Muslims also shout “Death to Israel,” calling for total annihilation of the ancient homeland of the Jews, whose laws formed the bedrock of Western civilization and ascendancy. The morality we take for granted is the morality set forth in the Old Testament and elaborated upon by the New Testament.
Morality is an issue that is integral to the founding of the American Republic because those early fathers of our nation were firm believers in “virtue,” a word that was frequently on their lips and in their writings. By virtue, they meant the ways individuals behave toward one another and a general, public respect for honesty, personal responsibility, sexual restraint, and a body of benevolent behavior that has a regard for the young, the old, and those less fortunate among us. The American founding fathers were not saints, but they knew and understood the need for proper behavior.
If a modern politician was to discuss virtue today, it is likely he would be laughed out of the room, but practically everyone pays lip service to virtue in some fashion. Those deemed to have lived lives of reasonable propriety tend to gain our trust. The misdeeds of those in public office or questing it are a matter of considerable discussion.
How far has America strayed from the values we claim to hold in esteem and in common? A nation of more than 300 million people is bound to have a goodly number of those who transgress. America probably has more people in jail than just about any other nation on earth, and the reason must be that we have the least amount of forgiveness for people who break the law. That is surely one measure of morality.
To return, however, to the results of the survey, I am inclined to agree that films and television are major contributors to the decay and decline that is impossible to ignore. Take a look at the typical evening’s schedule of programs, whether it is the networks or cable channels.
What passes for situation comedies are rife with sexual references. Dramas seem fixated on the subject and, of course, violence is a constant theme in what passes for our “entertainment.” Our news is filled with reports of celebrities and ordinary folk who are arrested as the result of what is often bizarre behavior. A former astronaut pursues her love interest’s new girlfriend. A former Playboy centerfold dies under suspicious circumstances. A beauty queen risks her crown for risqué photos.
Debates rage over the redefining of what marriage is, despite centuries of the norm that it constitutes the bonding of a man and a woman. Communities try to eliminate the word Christmas or Easter from the celebration of holidays that reach back hundreds of years.The killing of the unborn, decades after a Supreme Court ruling, still enrages those for whom the sanctity of life lies at the heart of their beliefs.
I submit that the day this nation abandons these debates and eliminates the prohibitions that represent our common definition of moral behavior is the day this nation will truly begin to lose its hold on our own and the world’s respect.
So, Americans must continue to grapple with issues of moral decline and must decry the soft decay of our mutually held values. It is a good thing we debate these things. A completely secular society is one in which “everything goes” and, when that occurs, the first thing to go will be the United States of America.
Marriage, Family, & Society
Religion, Secularism, & America
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center, which is located at www.anxietycenter.com.
Caruba’s new book, Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy, has been published by Merril Press.
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