Human beings are marvelously adaptive creatures, but that can sometimes work again us. That's because we tend to be so focused on adjusting to our present circumstances that we often forget to ask the bigger questions. How did we get to where we are now? Would we be in a stronger position today if we had made some better decisions upstream? What lessons from the past can we use in the future? This is the case for individuals, but it's even more applicable to nations.
Many people tend to assume that all societal changes are for the better. Certainly, we should all be grateful that the Democrat Party finally joined the Republicans in opposing slavery, segregation and Jim Crow laws. It's also wonderful that the Democrats at long last agreed with Republicans that women should have the right to vote. It's also great that both parties worked to help Americans become more educated, end child labor and make our society more affluent.
That being said, while it's fine to celebrate all the progress we've made as a nation, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we're also inferior to previous generations of Americans in some crucial areas. Only by recognizing where we've fallen short can we take steps to try to get back what we've lost as a people -- and as you're about to see, culturally, we've lost a great deal.
1) "To get a sense of how different attitudes were in the 1960s, perhaps this will do it. These never-married women were asked, “In your opinion, do you think it is all right for a woman to have sexual relations before marriage with a man she knows she is going to marry?” …Eighty-six percent said no."
To get an idea of how much things have changed since the early sixties, my friend Dawn Eden wrote a book on chastity and it was considered to be so unusual that she was booked for numerous "Can you believe there are people who still do this?" TV interviews. Would society be better off if more people were chaste before marriage? Unquestionably, but again, how do you put that rabbit back in the hat without a religious reawakening in our country?
2) "Today, about two-thirds of U.S. households with kids are led by a married couple, down from more than nine in 10 in 1960."
Studies also consistently show not just that children turn out better in two parent families, but that people who are married are happier than those that are single. Because of a soaring divorce rate, high profile break-ups and gay marriage, we've stopped treating holy matrimony with the reverence it deserves in our country. However, marriage really is the bedrock of our society and as it has turned to pumice, we've paid a terrible cost.
3) "In the decade after 9/11, China (Which America still thinks of as a cheap assembly plant for your local Krappimart) built the Three Gorges Dam, the largest electricity-generating plant in the world. Dubai, a mere sub-jurisdiction of the United Arab Emirates, put up the world’s tallest building and built a Busby Berkeley geometric kaleidoscope of offshore artificial islands. Brazil, an emerging economic power, began diverting the Sao Francisco River to create some 400 miles of canals to irrigate its parched northeast. But the hyperpower can’t put up a building (WTC)."
America put a man on the moon in less than a decade; yet we can't put a man on the moon today. We're more than 12 years out from 9/11 and we STILL haven't completed 1 World Trade Center. Meanwhile, it took 16 months to build the Pentagon, 4 years to complete the Sears/Willis Tower and we knocked out the Hoover Dam in just 5 years. If we were to get into another fight like WWII that depended on America's ability to produce massive amounts of military equipment, we couldn't win it because for all of our advanced technology and know-how, we're just not as good at building things as we used to be.
4) "If filmmakers in 1963 wanted the approval of the Production Code of Motion Picture Association of America, which almost all of them still did, the dialogue could not include any profanity stronger than hell or damn, and there had been dramatic justification even for them. Characters couldn’t take the name of the Lord in vain, or ridicule religion, or use any of form of obscenity — meaning just about anything related to the sex act….the plot couldn’t present sex outside of marriage as attractive or justified. Homosexuality was to be presented as a perversion. Abortion? ‘The subject of abortion shall be discouraged, shall never be more than suggested, and when referred to shall be condemned,’ said the code."
There are cartoons aimed at children and even video games that don't come close to living up to this anymore. In fact, these sort of "Leave it to Beaver" standards for entertainment seem almost bizarre today; yet they were the norm fifty years ago. Are we now better off as a society because your kids hear video game characters dropping F-bombs, listen to music glorifying murder and are regularly exposed to themes that were considered too racy for adults half a century ago? Absolutely not. Could we go back to rules anywhere near this strict? Realistically, no, but that says a lot about how much our society has degraded morally since then.
5) "Going back a hundred years, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery, we find that the census data of that era showed that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults....As of 1940, among black females who headed their own households, 52% were 45 years old or older. Moreover, only 14 percent of all black children were born to unmarried women at that time."
Fast forward to today and we find that, "Half of all children born to women under 30 in America now are illegitimate. Three in 10 white children are born out of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanic babies and 73 percent of black babies." If we fixed this problem, the poverty rate would plunge, drug use would plummet, prison populations would drop, the suicide rate would dip and we'd be healthier as a society in almost every way imaginable.