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America is too focused on the negative to prevail in a postivie light -- and we ought to change

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That Moral Navigation System

America is too focused on the negative to prevail in a postivie light — and we ought to change

In watching and digesting the news these days it is impossible not to hear about some tragic event.  It doesn’t seem we can go a day without some socially disturbing occurrence.  To make matters worse, when this tragic disruption occurs we focus all our attention on that rather than something that has social redeeming value.  Stench in equals stench out; we feed ourselves all this negativity from the press and then wonder why crime and irresponsible behavior continue.  Rather than focusing on academic achievements, outstanding families, medical breakthroughs, inspiring engineering feats and mental prowess we focus on violence, drunkenness and killing.  What is the fascination with killing, sex scandals, medical disorders and irresponsible behavior?  Why do the Lindsay Lohans, Britney Spears, Paris Hiltons, Keifer Sutherlands, Anna Nicole Smiths (God rest her soul), Larry Craigs, Mechele Linehans, Asa H. Coons and others who disrupt society receive so much press?  This irresponsible behavior should serve as a wakeup call.  America, as a country, needs to re-embrace her moral strivings and re-teach her citizens about culpability and consequence.  We sometimes allow ourselves to get so caught up in religion and differences and preferences, but we, as a nation, need to start being responsible and accountable.  How can we continue to be the moral standard for other nations when we’re continuously spiraling out of control?

There are certain principles that we all know to be true, regardless of whether or not we’d like to admit it.  Some examples are: flow, culpability and reciprocity.  Flow is the understanding that what goes in will eventually come out in some form, culpability is the taking of responsibility for one’s actions and reciprocity is the knowledge that what we do will return to us in some way.  Through these three lenses, we can see how morality benefits society.

The information that is forced upon us by the media these days is generally worthy of the sewer.  This is severely damaging, and we see it through continued providence of degrading stories for coverage.  After all, if one wants fame he or she has to do something incredible that’s so breathtaking that it can’t even be imagined before it happens, but infamy is easy: just commit a crime.  How often do we see showcased the good in mankind, and how long do those stories last?  But we all still remember Cho from the Virginia Tech massacre.  With nominal emphasis on the good, and little in the way of providence of a moral framework due to missing parents and political correctness is it any wonder that kids venture into sex, crime and profanity-laced communication?  They see it on TV, hear it on the radio and see it in movies, and it is replayed and repeated ad nauseum , plus there’s no one telling them, “this is immoral,” because they’ve grown up in a society where out-of-wedlock births are becoming the norm.  It becomes a vicious cycle, negative in equals negative out, and right now, as a country, we’re fanning the flames.

When we look to our leaders for solutions to the problems, though, what do we get?  Finger-pointing, that’s what.  No matter what happened, why or how, it’s “not my fault.”  And since it’s no one’s fault, no one feels the need to fix it.  In fact, it goes farther than that, if someone were to try to fix it, it would be assumed that they were at fault, so, again no one fixes the problem.  Of course, as responsible adults, we should have learned as children, that if we do something wrong we take the blame, the punishment and help to find a solution and help to find a way to never repeat it again.  Nowadays it seems like if it’s your fault the proper thing to do is to make up an excuse, shift the blame and implicate someone else if at all possible.  Additionally, we need leaders who are willing to take on things not their own.  Maybe it’s not my fault, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help find a solution, that’s the mentality we need. 

Finally, reciprocity, which is also sometimes called Karma.  If we do good things, good things will return to us.  Whether you’d like to believe this is because of some invisible, intangible waves or force in the universe or because of a god of some sort, the truth remains that good begets good and evil begets evil.  People are willing to embrace us if we continuously reaffirm their humanity and their dignity and people are more willing to rebel and resist or cause an ‘inadvertent’ mistake for those who disrespect and marginalize them.  True leadership recognizes and brings out the best in mankind and in the process minimizes their limitations.

A reassessment of our intake, a willingness to accept fault and affect change, and the willingness to do right will make all of our lives, as individuals, as a country, and as a world better.  Deep down we all know this to be true, so let’s start affecting positive change in our own circles of influence.  The least we can do is try for the greater good, knowing that a person will not needlessly die, be raped, harmed or destroyed because of our daily actions where we are.  And when we do this we will be the shining example for other nations.

Written By

Dr. Williams is a nationally syndicated columnist, former chairman of the economics department at George Mason University, and author of More Liberty Means Less Government

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