November 26, 2011

We need a moral revolution

I have never studied psychology, sociology or criminology.  Maybe time spent in those disciplines would reveal obvious answers to my confusion about how our nation has come to this low point in our moral decline.   

Despite centuries of progress in communication, technology and supposed improvement in every little facet of our lives, it seems that our society is becoming more and more lawless, crass and violent.

I am most confused by the apparent erosion of a clear sense of what is right and wrong.  I imagine there has always been the sense-of-entitlement crowd, those who think the law and common decency doesn't apply to them because of their wealth or status.  That isn't what I am talking about, though their numbers seem to grow exponentially each generation.

What I am trying to get a handle on are the true degenerates.  America seems to be filled with abusers, rapists, murderers, thieves, liars, cheats.  It really wasn't that long ago that you could leave your doors unlocked, let your children explore and play unattended - blocks from home, give a stranger a ride, hire a worker without a background check.  What changed?

I have often wondered if it is the saturation of media in our society.  Is it copy cat crime snowballing over years and decades?  When children grow up hearing about all of these acts, are a greater number of them likely to commit a similar crime?  How else could our society get to this point?

One of the morning-after articles about Black Friday violence said this,
In what seems to be a burgeoning Black Friday tradition, reports of violence erupted throughout the country.
A burgeoning tradition?  People are going shopping with pepper spray and firearms.  Where does that mentality come from?  And don't you dare blame it on guns.  I would argue that the glory days of American expansion westward, when men wore their guns on their hips, was one of the last times that there were still clear moral guidelines about what was right and wrong.  Yes, there was crime and lawlessness, but criminals knew they were criminals and even celebrated the notoriety.  But they were robbing banks, stagecoaches and trains.  They were rustling cattle.  They weren't buggering little boys, they weren't raping women and they weren't often murdering people in cold blood.  No one was walking into the general store and drawing their weapon if someone reached for the bolt of calico they wanted.  (There is the other consideration of the forms of punishment during those times and their effect on crime - I'll save that for another day).
The thought of the Wild West makes me wonder if societal mores are cyclical.  We went from the Wild West to the Roaring Twenties to Prohibition, The Depression and then the relatively moral uprightness of the 40's and 50's, prior to the sexual and drug infused revolution of the 60's and 70's.  Is there any hope of cycling back around to some basic common morality?  

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