I hesitate to say this because I have been the undeserving recipient of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness countless times over the course of my life. I also don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou because, like the Apostle Paul, I consider myself to be the “chief of sinners.” However, as I watch America’s moral compass spinning like a top on the road to complete lawlessness, I feel the need to speak up and speak out.
Simply put, I think we need a return to both public and private shame.
Now before you accuse me of being callous, judgmental, or worse, please let me clarify. I am not talking about shaming people (except for the worst and most vile of offenders). On the contrary, I am talking about shaming destructive personal behavior that violates societal norms and contributes to America’s moral and ethical decline.
When I was a kid, most people abided by an unwritten social code that said that parents – not the government – should care for their children and children should obey their parents. Children were also expected to listen to their teachers, first responders, clergy, and others in authority. These days, we tolerate and even subsidize negligent parents while excusing increasingly delinquent behavior in children.
Ask any educator and they will tell you that public schools have become virtual battlegrounds where anarchy has replaced order and discipline is a thing of the past. Spineless and inept school administrators, fearful of lawsuits and their own shadows, have ceded control to dangerous and disruptive students who are permitted to run amok everywhere from classrooms to locker rooms. Meanwhile, young people in their teens and twenties loot inner city stores with impunity as law enforcement officers are told to stand down by progressive officeholders.
Unmarried couples that lived together were once in the distinct minority and out-of-wedlock birth – which is the leading predictor of future incarceration and lifelong poverty – was not something to brag about let alone emulate. Fathers used to work two and three jobs rather than depend on government handouts and real men didn’t curse in front of women because it was considered inappropriate. Nowadays, some women give as much as they take when it comes to public profanity.
Once upon a time, alcoholism and drug addiction weren’t considered random diseases that afflicted unsuspecting victims, but rather the tragic result of poor personal decisions and poor moral character. In such cases, our state and federal governments offered bona fide treatment programs instead of enabling those battling addictions with free needles and heroin houses.
Back then, people who purposely and repeatedly broke the law were called crooks and, if their offenses were serious enough, they were incarcerated for their illegal behavior. Police officers were our friends and career criminals were the enemies of a civilized society… and locked away for good.
Prior to the Obama and Biden administrations, there were only two recognized genders and those who may have thought otherwise received the medical and/or psychological help that they so desperately needed. In fact, until progressive pressure deemed otherwise, the American Psychiatric Association considered gender identity disorder to be a mental illness that required both intervention and treatment… not a celebratory parade.
Since the 60s, our long-established and deeply cherished societal norms have been under siege. Working in lockstep, the educational system and the entertainment industry have launched a coordinated and double-barreled attack on traditional values, aided and abetted by their allies in the mainstream media. Meanwhile, so-called scholars have sought to rewrite America’s flawed but mostly laudable history by portraying our Founding Fathers as racists, bigots, and misogynists.
Twenty-first century standards – or lack thereof – are now used to judge our forefathers and cast them in the worst possible light. The truth of the matter is that we are unworthy of these great men and women who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor so that we might live free.
Look no further than the world of politics to see how America’s moral climate has undergone a sea change over the past 35 years. In 1987, a 45-year-old junior senator from Delaware was forced to end his nascent presidential campaign because he was caught plagiarizing speeches and lying about his academic record. Today, that same liar and cheat holds the highest office in the land as the 46th President of the United States.
Earlier that same year, former Colorado Senator Gary Hart dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination because of media reports that he was having an affair with a campaign aide. Less than 10 years later, a sitting President was exonerated by the U.S. Senate despite lying under oath to a grand jury about his sexcapades.
I could go on and on, but you get the point. The key to America’s future lies in a return to the best aspects of its past.
Trust me, I am not looking to invoke a Puritanical litmus test on anyone… although placing rapists and child molesters in stocks on the village green shouldn’t be ruled out. And yes, for the most part, a person’s private life should be exactly that – private – as long as it is legal. However, until we start to publicly disapprove of criminal acts and destructive behavior while simultaneously promoting personal responsibility, America will continue its downward spiral towards lawlessness and moral ambivalence.
In 2003, retired judge Robert Bork (yes, THAT Robert Bork, the same one that Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy demonized and openly lied about) wrote a seminal book titled, Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline. Sadly, Judge Bork – who would have been a great Supreme Court Justice along the lines of Antonin Scalia – proved to be a modern-day prophet as he described in great detail the slippery slope of moral relativism.
Whether our nation continues to decay from within or experiences a spiritual revival akin to the First and Second Great Awakenings remains to be seen. From my vantagepoint, only a return to God and a heaping helping of good old-fashioned common sense will save us from the abyss. We also need to uphold, individually and collectively, what is decent… and to denounce what is not.
Pity the country that doesn’t know – or care to point out – the difference.
Dale Glading is an ordained minister and former N.J. Republican candidate for Congress.