Sunday, February 17, 2008

America in the balance

Michelle Obama recently talked about an erosion of souls in America. It didn't go over well in all quarters but in principle she's correct--too many of us are 'losing our souls'. Granted, it was silly of her to prop up hubby as the only fixer but let's deal with the reality of her words for a moment.

At risk of sounding like a glass half-empty lib or end-of-days preacher, the evidence of soul rot is all around us. Mass shootings are becoming common; cheating and corruption are everywhere; the rule of law is becoming a mere suggestion especially if money is involved; and common courtesy has taken a back seat to to selfish expedience as evidenced daily on America's cutthroat highways.

Our popular music and movies long ago jumped the shark. Artists today seem to lack soul, even the soul artists. At the corner bijou, which is now the multi-bijou 15 plex, sequels are all the rage. Former leading men like Cary Grant, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood and Sidney Poitier dwarf today's crop. These stars of yesteryear all had human faults but they also possessed an intangible charm, dignity and respect that today's leading men can't match.

As to the ladies, this may sound sexist, but while they're just as beautiful and talented as before they've left practically nothing to the imagination. Prudish? Curmudgeon-like? You decide. But I've been around long enough to study a few iterations.

The wide world of sports, once a land of heroes, is not immune. In the span of a week we've seen cheating allegations against the coach of one of the most storied college basketball programs in the nation; heard more rumors about the artificial prowess of baseball's all time home run king; and witnessed a foolish attempt by one of baseball's all-time best pitchers to rescue a flaming legacy (appropriately using a lawyer tied to Bill Clinton). Meanwhile the best team in pro football were exposed as serial cheaters from the get-go. Congrats, gentlemen. But they're all rich, right?

As to politicians, most are sleazy suckbags and have been since the days of Plato, but usually the presidential race produces at least one decent choice. The level of patronizing is an inverse relationship to the level of education in America, a country where millions of people can't even understand the 1040EZ form much less what a sub-prime mortgage is. Don't worry, Uncle Sam's Nanny is waiting in the wings.

And just stand back and marvel at the hubris--politicians, with a straight face, boldly promising to change the climate. People react by marveling about what a "great speaker" he or she is!

The barbarians are not at the gates. They're likely hiding in the tall grass nearby watching everything through binoculars and planning their future attacks. Like many others, I've wasted many words here, there and everywhere trying to remind people of the threat posed by terrorism long before 9/11. It's hard to convince people who think the president is the real enemy because of his stances against debauchery or the fact he mentioned Jesus once or twice. For a history refresher, take a look at the movie "Navy Seals" with Charlie Sheen, a flick made in 1990. Charlie kicked some royal Islamofascist butt, and with great glee back then. Now he's a 9/11 truther.

I'd be lying if I didn't blame this downer pill on the NIU shooting. There were certainly other force multipliers but the cold-blooded, calculating nature really focused it for me, especially coming from a kid who nobody suspected. Everyone has their pet theories as to why mild-mannered, plain-looking young, white kids are snapping into mass murderers all over the place. Surely it could be the cheapening of life due to an overload of available fantasy such as porn or video games; or it could be our new brutish, jungleland-like 3rd world culture that tends to place a jackboot on kids like these; or it could be the permeation of evolutionary teachings in our classrooms, which tends to remove the fear of death or common respect for our fellow "animals". Or it could be the divorce culture that left too many kids without meaningful supervision. It's probably a combination of a lot of things and more.

Frankly, I really don't have any profound answers. My instinct is to ammo-up myself and move the family to Montana, placing self over God and country. Wonder how many politicians already feel that way deep down inside?

But life is short. It's better to stand and fight than ride off into a selfish, apathetic sunset, flashing everyone the moon at the city limit sign. Truth is we're swirling at this point, but far from the drain. Ironically, America was so high up on the shining hill that our downward slip has been overly magnified. This is still by far the world's best destination and there's no reason it shouldn't continue to be for years.

But nothing will change if the current generation who've seen the promised land on that hilltop says 'screw it'. Checks and freebies and compassion for law-breakers won't save us. Tax cuts, smaller government or a Fair Tax won't do it, either. Politicians alone aren't the answer. The healing comes from a return to discipline, hard work, self-reliance, seeking wise counsel, living within means, having great compassion for those less fortunate (and showing it) and remembering that the Golden Rule has nothing to do with gold.

Sounds corny and old fashioned. Maybe overly melodramatic. It might even piss you off. But to me even a small dose of the above on a massive scale could indeed lead to "change" and perhaps thwart our imminent slide off the approaching cliff and into the dustbin of nations. Maybe some of our "straight talkers" can touch on this subject during the campaign amidst their promises and platitudes.

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