The answer to the "moral decline of America" question will always illicit an array of arguments. Some people will point out American progress over the last fifty years and wholeheartedly claim that America is on the rise. Likewise, some people will point to America's problems over the last fifty years and vehemently claim that it is falling from grace. Wherever you come down on this issue, the fact is that you most likely have an opinion on whether or not America is in moral decline. Sadly, I believe it is.
Here we are just coming out of Black History month and instead of celebrating Women’s History Month by honoring the progress of women around the world, Americans are glorifying the lives of several women who actually deserve no attention at all. Anna Nicole Smith, a woman who became famous by milking a dying millionaire out of his estate, received more media attention after her death than any mother in the world. Her peer, Brittany Spears, shaved her head (most likely to avoid a drug testing dilemma), checked herself into rehab, got a tattoo, and leapt to the front page of our newspapers and the opening story on our nightly news. Examples of moral disintegration in this country are not merely limited to the rich and famous. Everyday on our streets, in our schools, and at our workplaces we see people breaking the law, cheating the system, and living without any moral compass and we dwell on tiffs between the likes of Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump. The divorce rate is climbing; adultery is on the rise; there are few stable marriages in Hollywood and our politicians are not far off the list of statistics.
I was at Union Station's book store in Washington, DC, and witnessed firsthand the shooting of a high school boy. The victim was shot by another high schooler who was upset this boy was checking out his girlfriend. After arguing and fighting in front of dozens of cheering onlookers, the teenage killer pulled out a gun and shot the other boy. The Union Station shooting (other than my watching television) was the first time in my life I’ve ever witnessed someone shot. It truly forced me to face the reality of what path our country is headed down and how casual our youngsters will resort to violence. There's no doubt that this aggressive behavior is being reinforced by the shameless media and entertainment industry that constantly barrage us with these images.
As most of you know, I am a staunch defender of free speech and I believe censorship in most forms is a bad idea. I agree with Mark Twain when he said, "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it." I also believe that the American audience will eventually wise up and stop buying what the media is currently selling. At some point, the American audience will tire of the endless killings shown in action movies, the casual sex portrayed in sit-coms, and the downright shameful behavior seen in tabloids and magazines. But until we stop talking about these silly stories and watching these shameful shows, the media and the networks will continue to give them to us. Although it is probably time for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enforce stricter laws, I think it would be vastly more effective to have the people boycott than the politicians legislate.
Currently America is the most hated country in the world. And sadly, with every passing day, we become the most disrespected country in the world. We are seen overseas as a rich, pompous, egotistical, wasteful, shameful, and sinful society. We are accused of embracing a double standard that allows us to do one thing, while saying another. Examples of this include our insistence to expand the military while asking Middle Eastern countries to disarm; Polluting the environment more than any other country, yet refusing to join international programs to save the planet and expecting the rest of the world to abide by international laws but getting immunity from the International Criminal Court.
The United States is surrounded by legal issues revolving around same-sex marriages which are further complicated by the nation’s federal system of government. We are living in a time that we must deal with child sexual abuse in the priesthood and in society at large as well as kidnapping. Our children are our future and we must protect them. Unfortunately, there are no simplistic solutions to getting rid of pedophiles. We must deal with the painful truth that sexual abuse of children is a crime that not only occurs in the priesthood, but most of the time is committed in our own families. Obviously there are many more examples of Americans living a double standard and each of us must admit our role in perpetuating this.
Whether we’re talking about the media, the environment, the war, or local crime, it is all the same – we must stop the moral decline of America if we wish to avoid the fate of other past empires.