Has the United States lost itís basic principle of morality? Has the United States moved away from the guiding principles that this country was founded on? A single line from the Declaration of Independence describes these basic principles, and It’s the meaning of those words which provided the foundation for the creation of the United States:
All Americans are created equal and that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a right granted to every citizen of america. Our founding fathers acquired these principles from their religious beliefs, and no matter what people may think, the United States was founded on Biblical principles. Our founding fathers did not use certain elements of the Bible only to satisfy what they wanted in a nation. They used the Bible as a whole in order to create an understanding of what the fundamental rights are for an individual.
Among the unalienable rights given by our creator is the right to live our own lives. Our founder placed each individual on this earth for a reason. Is it not true that other people in the world have that identical unalienable right to live and fulfill God’s purpose? Thus, if this is a founding principle for our country, does it not follow that we as a country should help others less fortunate then us? Should not others, who were born in underdeveloped countries, have the exact same right to life? In this guide, I will address some of these questions, with the hope that by examining these issues, we can as a society, move in a direction our founding fathers had envisioned. Americans have lost site of the fact that excess without giving is not really what our founding fathers had in mind. Lets examine some examples which are symbolic of this immorality that currently exists within the American society.
Before presenting this first example, we need to get a clear definition of what morality is. From WordNet, a lexical database for the English language, developed at the Cognitive Science Library at Princeton University, morality is concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong. This first example of immorality could be considered by many as one that doesn’t have anything to do with morality, but if you give it more then cursory thought, you would probably consider it a morality issue.
This first example has to do with Americans and their relationship with their automobiles. Yes, immorality can be viewed at such a insignificant level. More importantly, this case shows the pervasiveness of immorality within the American society. Most Americans, if typical, need an automobile for basic functioning in most regions of america. The automobile has become a perfunctory status symbol. Many people within the United States can barely pay their rent or mortgage, but they will shovel out money per month on an automobile they really can’t afford. They spend money per month in the form of a car payment or lease, just to get a ìniceî car.
If your driving skill is so bad that you can not avoid poor drivers, try working on your driving skill. This to me makes more sense then driving a tank (SUV) which consumes large amounts of fuel and concomitantly leads to an increase in fuel demand. This increase in fuel demand drives fuel prices upward. With Americans so reliant upon their automobiles, higher fuel prices mean less extra money in their pocket. Money that could be used to help feed those dying from starvation throughout the world.
The American automobile companies for many years pushed the SUV on the American people, and now these car companies are suffering the consequences. The thinking as to why these companies offered these vehicles to the American public was that they believed Americans would continue in their mind set that surplus is better. The American automobile companies today are doing poorly as a small business. They have always laid off employees in order to maintain a degree of viability. They’ve been very slow to innovate and the national government has had to mandate fuel efficiency. Because of their slow response to the demand for fuel efficient vehicles, American automobile companies are now suffering the consequences.
On the other hand, Toyota and Honda, companies that have put fuel efficient hybrids out into the market place, are now doing very well. Toyota is now the number one car seller in the world. Toyota and Honda have consistently put fuel efficiency as a higher priority. A glimmer of hope lies in the fact that Americans are starting to make the mind set that excess is not good, and frugality is the way of the future. Simply put, driving SUVs is not intelligent.
Driving an SUV when it really is not necessary is an example of overindulgence in america. Granted, there are situations where a person needs a SUV such as Alaska or any area of the country where road conditions are poor or winters are severe. Or, there are occasions where material has to be hauled into a SUV because of itís increase carrying capacity. In these cases, there is a legitimate reason to have a SUV because of itís utilitarian value. But the majority of SUV owners are not in these situations or extreme conditions often enough to justify owning this kind of fuel wasting automobile. Driving a hybrid is an example of intelligent frugality. So as to purchase a Toyota or Honda hybrid, you’ll have to be set on a long waiting list. This is a good indication that Americans are starting to develop the mind set that having less is better and frugality is the way of the future.
Our society has been through a period of excess and over indulgence but changes, hopefully, are on the horizon. Morality in the kind of giving needs to be reincorporated back into our society. It makes more sense to drive a more fuel efficient vehicle, and utilize some of the saved cash to contribute to the world hunger problem. For many morally conscious individuals, this type of sustained and continual activity leads to greater long term happiness.
Giving does not have to be financial, it may be in different forms, such as giving time or understanding. This bring us to our next example of morality reduction that has been in existence in america. Many parents today aren’t giving enough time for their children. Children will need to be nurtured. A parents wisdom, gained through a life time of experiences, needs to be imparted to their children. Parents will need to impart to their children the value of giving and a sense of concern for others. When I was a child growing up, school shootings where kids are killing teachers and fellow students, was virtually unheard of. Today, school shootings are occurring at an alarming frequency. To me, part of the problem is due to parents not spending enough time with their kids. In this case, it comes down to giving time and knowledge. Parents not devoting enough time for their children is another example of morality reduction in our society.
Another example of the immorality prevalent within our society is displayed by the movies which come out of Hollywood today. I’m sorry to say that most of these films really are to put it bluntly, garbage. The majority of these films lack the cerebral quality of the prior films. From a technical perspective i.e. special effects, they’re excellent, but from a cerebral standpoint, they’re lacking. They are only produced as a way to generate money for people who are producing them, without any understanding to the implications they may have on society, especially younger people.
Creativity is basically gone from Hollywood and a number of the movies coming out now are remakes of effective earlier movies. Once and a while a good film will be presented to the American people, but generally speaking most are crap. Most of todayís actors are not really household names. They come and go quite quickly and lack the staying power of a John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, or Humphrey Bogart. These actors displayed a level of ethics and they new about the personification they were displaying to the American people. They weren’t perfect, but they did exhibit a higher degree of morality.
Is our society spiraling down to the oblivion of lost hope? More and more we’re seeing examples which exhibit the positive value of giving. They were named persons of the year not because of anything that happened at Microsoft and not because Bono is a rock star, they were named persons of the year for their charitable work and activism aimed at reducing global poverty and improving world health. Eventually a media organization is recognizing the value of giving.
Another sign of hope that Americans may be moving away from the mind set of excess and non-giving, can be found in the enormous outpouring of giving monetarily in the wake of the worst hurricane season the United States has had on record. Americans also have given monetarily to the tsunami relief effort. Americans haven’t been giving readily to the current starving in Africa. In December 2005, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization issued a warning that almost 12 million Africans face the immediate threat of famine. Americans have not been giving to the Pakistani earthquake relief efforts.
This lack of giving is not really due to Americans not ready to give, but rather due to the lack of media exposure. CNN would rather spend hours talking about whether President Bush broke the law by wire tapping possible terrorists in america, then discuss the important world issues like the thousands that are dying in the wake of the Pakistan earthquake or the hungry in Africa. It’s quite important that the media expose these type of stories. You can not give if you don’t know about the need.
The point is this. Giving on a continuous basis, produces feelings of long term happiness. For this nation to get back to itís moral principles, giving to others in need is one way to move in that direction. Which brings me back to my first point. Americans need to fully contact the mind set that giving and getting less is of higher value then having more. We must move away from trying to produce short term happiness via artificial means.
Artificial symbols such as what sort of car you drive, how fancy your clothing is, or how many vacation homes it is possible to acquire ought to be of less importance to any one who has some substance to them. The next time you end up propagating one of these excesses, think about the 24,000 people daily which are dying of hunger. Consider the six million children under the age of five which will die of hunger each year. When you think about these things, giving makes more sense.
Albert Einstein once said ì the worth of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he’s capable of receiving.î What a lot of people do not understand is that Albert Einstein was a deeply spiritual man. He knew that only a God could produce such a complex world, and that such complexity couldn’t have been generated by random chaotic events. He saw the order in the universe and the relation of the world with God. He simply didn’t wear his religion on his sleeve. He also had insights beyond physics in that he realized what truly gives a man a sense of happiness and inner peace.
Einstein had it right in that happiness doesn’t come from what you hold, but really from what you give. No matter what your religious belief, a life time of giving to those less fortunate then yourself, will result in long term happiness. Give it a go. You might be surprised by the feeling it generates. A glimmer of hope is on the horizon. But we must all do our part.