WHAT DOES AMERICA THINK?
I recently landed in Florida and as we all stood up to disembark, found that the door did not open as expected. Everyone was in a good mood. As we were standing very close together, we began to talk and the topic was politics and America’s decline.
To my surprise there was unanimous agreement of about 20 or more people who got in on this topic with enthusiasm. We ended up talking for nearly 15 minutes, and not one of us cared about the delay, it seemed. Without opposition, everyone agreed that the loss of morality and ethics was the cause of our political, institutional and corporate failure. Everyone believed in America’s democracy and opportunity; however, the repression of religious expression, the removal of God’s name from our publications and the denial of individual responsibility was blamed by all for our challenges.
Since then I have taken the liberty of “polling” people for this issue whenever I have a chance to talk with a new acquaintance. There seems to be no question about the agreement on this issue. However, I suspect that if I was meeting people on a college campus it would be different. The few “intellectuals” that I meet, seem repelled by the thought of a God or God’s recognition anywhere.
The “intellectual” few I have met, seem to look down upon those of us who “need” God as they are so sure we do so because of our intellectual inferiority. They easily explain how “God is the reason for many of our wars and efforts to exterminate each other.” I always laugh at this mentally, as I never see God being the reason. From my viewpoint it is greedy, power hungry leaders who hijack religion in what they call “God’s plan”. Witness the radical Islamics of today. If the average American Christian (or Jew) were to look into his heart for the religious values that Christianity takes from Jesus’ teachings, he would not do what has been done to America in the last 20 years of our decline, nor would he lead a Crusade against any nation of people. I believe it is only those who falsely claim God’s blessing on war and then deceitfully commandeer religious followers, who are cause of war, and not God. In other words anything can be used to instigate war, if you are a clever enough leader. Look at what Hitler did or perhaps what we will soon learn about the Khmer Rouge as the public proceedings continue.
If you look carefully back upon this short essay, you may sense that the key to a civilization’s survival is a balance and avoidance of extremes. Erasing God’s name from our institutions walls, congress’ opening ceremony, classrooms and speech may be a big mistake. In contrast, I find it hard to understand values that are those that suit personal taste. Without “ultimate values” it seems that almost anything is possible depending upon your circumstances. At least this seemed the conclusion a sampling of America’s people who were for 15 minutes trapped in an airplane in Florida’s South-West Airport.
I do not feel I or anyone I know is wise enough to know all the answers to preventing America’s decline as it appear today, but I have a good feeling for what is the answer is. I also seemed my new friends on Jet Blue that day did too. In my sci-fi books, I experiment with what happens when we do or don’t follow these paths. I think it makes for a very interesting story; though one I would rather not live in. Chess is too predictably complex and boring for me, checkers too simple, but people and America an amazing adventure. Let’s hope we find people wiser than we have been to run our government, corporations and religious institutions. As Einstein said,
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
PS: Why did I use “Jetblue’s” logo when I could have put in an anonymous airplane image? I think that as a corporation, thought they have had failures, Jetblue strives to treat people as they would like to be treated themselves. When corporations, business leaders and citizens demand values over profits, we will all profit! Doesn’t our common Judeo-Christian heritage predict this?