The world has been a dangerous place forever. I was born shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My mother was born not long after the United States declared war on Germany in WWI. There were at least three wars going on in the world my father was born into in 1905. The point is that, somewhere in the world, every generation has had its conflicts. Going back for as long as history has been recorded, and it doesn’t seem that conflicts will end anytime soon.
It could very well be that people will never learn to live in peace together. For one thing, there are always competing interests—on every level from the personal to the international. I don’t like to think that life is a zero-sum proposition, still it is true that generally five loaves and two fishes don’t feed multitudes. Still, there is a lesson to be learned in that parable: just not one that humankind is likely to ever learn.
People are no smarter for all the advances of civilization. In fact, civility seems to have retrograde momentum. Everything happens faster, however: it takes less time to do about everything with modern technologies, which means that everyone has more time than ever before—except that we don’t. People are working longer hours, spend/or waste more hours every day doing nothing productive or even pleasurable.
While we live in relative freedom in the USA—free to make most important life choices: our job, who we marry, if we marry, where we live–and we live in relative prosperity, one would think we, as a people, would be happier than ever before. Instead, it seems we have more time to be unhappy with our lives and more time to mind other people’s business.
Why, we are even upset over our biology! We want to be able to choose our sex, changing it from one day to another—based on how we feel when we get up in the morning. (This is not an argument either for or against heterosexuality.) We also still seem to be hanging on to grievances over race, even when all you have to do is look around to see that not many people think much about racial inequality at all anymore. Most everyone has interracial marriages in their families, interracial friends and business associates.
One would think we could just move on to solving new problems rather than nurse our petty and mostly insignificant backward-looking grievances when the actual dangers–to all people: our people, our families, our children, our brothers and sisters—are being side-lined.
The silliness of two or three generations, and the fixation on those backward-looking wrongs, are breaking down our culture. Culture is the word that collectively embraces our differences in a manner that allows society to function. Culture is an unspoken collective agreement about the basic things people do: survival—food, clothing, shelter, environment—but also about appropriate relationships to each other, how we educate our children, basic morals and accepted behaviors. And what language we speak, because obviously we need to be able to communicate with one another.
There have been geographical boundaries that have encompassed different cultures for most of human life on earth: those are now compromised in a complicated way. There are biological facts that have also dictated the outcome of choices for most, until quite recently, creating a division of labor based primarily on biology and a family-centric society.
I suppose it can be said that once again Eve has taken a bite out of the apple. Eve wants sexual freedom and a society where public programs enable her to ignore her biology. Eve wants to have a family, but to fulfill herself outside the home. In other words, Eve doesn’t really want to make a choice about how she will live her life based on very real biological facts: Eve wants to have it all.
As a result, many times Eve’s children have several fathers and no real family. Eve is often a single parent needing the government to step into the role of provider: husband and father. And Eve seems to blame men for her problems.
Moving on: the color of someone’s skin has been a social issue in the USA since bringing people to the country to provide cheap (free) labor was seen as an economic solution to progress. Big business has been a big problem for a very long time. Big business is not the equivalent of private enterprise or capitalism. Big business tends to pool wealth disproportionately. It also tends to use political systems to unfair advantage. Corporations are seen as persons legally, but corporate interests are not at all the same as those of single persons. In fact, big business, that is corporations, are even now looking to import another group of people from elsewhere as cheap (if not free) labor: people from a different culture(s), speaking a different language(s). While we nurse the grievances of old, we also perpetuate them anew.
Bringing cheap labor from another culture didn’t work before, yet we are still doing it. “There are jobs that American’s won’t do,” big business says. Perhaps Americans should be doing their own dirty work. One must assume those are the jobs they won’t do. American’s also won’t raise their own children. They want day-care for infants still on the breast (or, more likely, the bottle: it’s inconvenient to feed one’s babies naturally). They want them in pre-school as young as three.
Government has legitimate functions: roads, utilities, and national security, primarily. The government is not legitimately in charge of educating our children, providing day care, paying our medical bills, or attending to any of the basic needs of our individual lives—except in unusual circumstances. Our health and our happiness are actually up to each of us as individuals. Government has moved far from providing a safety net for those in unusual circumstances, and it has done the opposite of empowering people to live healthy, functional, productive lives. Welfare systems do not promote productivity and living a productive life is one of the best ways to be happy. Obesity is not just a national tragedy but is becoming a serious health problem in too many countries.
Even while the government has had a heavy hand in directing the education of our children, it has allowed, even promoted, that children be taught that the USA is more bad than good; it has focused on wrongs—real and perceived. That has been happening over quite a long period of time. Now there is another interesting public focus: masculinity is being attacked in classrooms. Masculinity is not a good thing: if it isn’t toxic already, it very easily can become toxic.
It’s easy to see Eve taking another bite out of the apple. The collective modern woman blames men for a biology she wants to escape. Eve doesn’t want men, she wants to be a man. Eve has become a hedonist, or perhaps a trollop. (If you are part of the LGBT community, this isn’t the place to stop reading.)
Women have always been the societal glue, the moral force of a society. Men have testosterone for a biological reason, and it is not a pathological reason. Girlified, metrosexual men are perhaps better seen as aberrant. There is a bell-curve distribution for about everything. People’s sexual proclivities have always been variable. What is different, concerning society’s male preference, is for the modern man to be less aggressive, less protective, and less possessive. Women want freedom from their biology which, I suppose, is the natural freedom of being born male—at least in terms of taking responsibility for their sexual activity. Societies have had other ways of making men behave. Now many men, like many women, are becoming more self-centered: selfish, hedonistic, amoral.
Amorality, in a collective sense, is becoming mainstream. Morality is being redefined to our cultural detriment. It’s one thing to have a population of amoral artists, and eccentrics—people who live outside the cultural norm–and intellectuals—people who think outside the cultural norm. Of course it is good to have tolerance for individual difference. But it is another thing to create an amoral culture: a culture without moral boundaries. A wish for a culture without boundaries is a suicidal wish for a culture.
A culture has generally been contained within the boundaries of a country. Where there are no boundaries, no common language, no sexual preferences, no on-duty parents, no responsibilities, no obligations, no right and wrong, no truths, no history, no stories, no shame and, perhaps most important, no desire for preservation, a culture is simply not going to endure: it is on a path to extinction.
This Memorial Day I’ll add my simplistic and pitifully incomplete synopsis of the current state of affairs to what is said to be a national discussion. This is the day we pause to remember what we, as a nation, have been willing to fight and die to defend. It is generally called “our freedom” which is another way to say “our way of life” which has always been our homes and our families. Perhaps we have come to take our way of life for granted, to malign it because it isn’t perfect. Or perhaps it really is more perfect than we care to admit. Perhaps having to actually make choices is the best part of life and having to realize that some choices preclude other choices is simply being realistic. It doesn’t make sense to see ourselves as victims because of the facts of our birth: our sex, race, the income or occupation of our parents; or to live with chronic anger wanting to escape the circumstances of our existence.
The seven deadly sins are still deadly: lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, wrath, envy and pride.
Remember, that once something is destroyed, it is gone. A suicide can not be brought back to life. Be careful. This rather pervasive national temper tantrum can come to no good end.
M L S Baisch