Attacks on our basic morality should breed anger; anger breeds action. Throughout our history, Americans, driven by moral rage, have done right. It is moral anger that drove our forefathers to rebel against Great Britain and to build this nation. It is moral anger that drove Americans into battle to abolish slavery. It is moral anger that drove Americans to destroy Hitler, to erode communism and to march for civil rights.
Despite the new focus on "coping," today's Americans must be allowed to feel rage when wronged. President Bush was absolutely right when he stated on Sept. 11, 2001, "The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger ? A great people has been moved to defend a great nation."
Of course, to feel rage, Americans must first be sure of their own values; without defining our values, we will never have the courage to speak up when those values are attacked. This means fighting moral relativism in all its forms.
Professor James Q. Wilson of the University of California at Los Angeles once described the rise of crime with a "broken windows" theory: If you allow vandals to break windows without consequences, soon enough others will begin breaking windows. Crime in the immediate area will escalate, since crime breeds on apathy and lax enforcement.
The same principle holds true for morality. When we are apathetic to smaller moral crimes, we allow criminals the comfort level they desire to commit heinous acts. Is it any accident that Jerry Hobbs was recently released from prison for aggravated assault? Was it any accident that America's willingness to ignore "minor" terrorist incidents preceded Sept. 11?
Our ire must be aroused whenever morality is attacked, not just when those attacks are most visible. Collective moral anger is a powerful tool and a tool that must not be removed from the hands of the people -- even in the name of "healthy self-actualization."