Archive for the ‘America’ Category

The notion that there is no God is somewhat prevolant these days in certain institutions and intellectual circles in America. And the idea that we are nothing more than a self-assembled collection of proteins with no underlying intent or design is taught in most of our schools now as scientific fact. Certainly a large percentage of the smart, hip, young, crowd that comprises the majority of opinion on the blogosphere has been raised to hold nothing but contempt for both God and religion in general. At best, God is written off these days as a fairy tale for children and for those among us who cant deal with life and existence as it really is-a thing without purpose or intent.

And yet isn’t it ironic that these people who hold forth so strongly on the internet about their opinions on everything under the sun- life, politics, culture, war, and peace- these people strangely proceed and behave as though they and their thoughts, opinions, and lives  MATTER greatly even when the philosophy and worldview which underlies all their aguments demands that they DON’T matter in a life with no purpose.

In a view of our universe where there is no maker, no design, no purpose, no intent, and nothing sacred or divine, we MUST accept that all morality is but illusion and a pretension. What is the notion of right and wrong- of good and evil anyways, but a statement that THIS is how things are MEANT to be, whereas this other thing is NOT as it was intended to be. Without an appeal to a greater plan or meaning, what value can one act or idea possibly hold over another one? In a life where all conceptions are equally meaningless, how shall we say then that this is right and noble, or that this other thing is wrong or bad? What is the special value of a life anyways if we are just random matter flung about in a cold, empty, dead universe ? A clod of dirt or a man- what’s the difference ? To live or to die, to kill or  be killed- it’s just re-arranging a few quantum particles to no particular end isnt it?

 If the sole meaning behind our lives is survival of the fittest, then why should we care for the weak, the sick,the old, the disabled, the tired, the poor, and the simple? Why do we labor for and care for and sacrifice for them? Why should we bother? What is their assigned role in secular neo darwinism?

This philosophy of a Godless existence which we have so blithely accepted as a matter of fact in our schools and in our society is not a philosophy without consequences, for if we answer to nobody for our actions and for our life, and if we have no responsibility to each other or to a higher moral code than our own wishes and ambitions, then we quickly see what becomes of a nation that founds itself on such things. We soon find ourselves looking around ourselves at situations, events, and at a way of life that doesnt seem to make sense, or to sit right with us on an intrinsic level- like the proverbial splinter in Neo’s mind. Life becomes unfamiliar, strange, and not quite right somehow when we abandon all metaphysical concepts of morality and spirituality in favor of atheistic naturalism and conduct ourselves according to the tenats of that philosophy. That is because we KNOW deep down  that this is not as it was INTENDED to be. We are all born with a conscience and the dictates of that intrinsic knowledge of good and evil do not always run parrellel to the intrests of darwinian self preservation. The firefighters who ran into the twin towers on 911 when everyone else was running OUT were not behaving according to their own survival interests, but rather acted contrary to them as a result a belief in metaphysical principles. They chose self-sacrifice rather than self interest as a result of their belief in a higher moral code.  

 Deep down, we humans all have an innate frame of reference. We KNOW that there is a meaning and a purpose to our lives, and that there is intrinsic value in the lives of others- although we may find that meaning hard to grasp or understand or articulate sometimes. We also know deep-down what right and wrong are, and we know that the foundation of such concepts is NOT survival of the fittest. Rather we see the best that we can be as people in the polar opposite of darwinistic selection – in heroism- when a man or a woman devotes his or her life to serving others rather than themselves, and in the service and bravery of those who would lay down their lives for another. These are lives of signifigance that we hold up as examples for us to be inspired and guided by.

My attitude towards people who have no faith in a life with any meaning higher or more relevant than random particle interactions is this- If you want to write-off  life and everything we are as meaningless and random- without design or intent- then by all means please go ahead and do so. But IF you do so, then in the interest of consistency and intellectual honesty, I must also insist that you quit acting and shit-talking to those of us who disagree with you, as though the things you do and say in this life matter- because they clearly DON’T. Without a greater metaphysical meaning to your existence, you need to just accept once-and-for-all that everything you are is nothing but DUST IN THE WIND and therefore nothing you have to say is of any consequence whatsoever to anybody. If that is the path you choose, then please go sit quietly in a corner, in the mud, and sulk- because your life has no point or purpose. Wear sack cloth. Throw ashes on yourself and on your meaningless, pointless life. But why should you bother to trouble those of us who do choose to have faith? If we live our lives  as though our short, precious time here actually is special, relevant, and part of a higher plan and meaning designed by a power greater than ourselves, then why should we suffer the insults and scorn of those who claim their lives have no greater purpose? If you have no purpose, then why not go away and be quiet? Why all the sqwawking from these people who claim there is no point or purpose to anything?

Deep down inside us all, sometimes hidden behind the walls of rationalization built in the mind, we know that there is a meaning and a signifigance, and a purpose to this life. We all know it -through our lives, our loves, our aspirations, our tears, our laughter, our joys, our sorrow, our losses, and our triumphs in this life. We see in our desires to act and to prosper and to labor and to create and to bring forth some good thing into this life that there is an intent and a design to this thing- that there is right and wrong- and that we are all part of a plan that is greater than us.

To not acknowledge a maker and a designer is to write off everything we know and love as nothing but quantum dust. That includes every aspect of our lives and thoughts, our families, the birth of our children, the death of a loved-one, home and hapiness, holidays and laughter, jokes and games, neighbors on the porch, education, all our life’s work and aspirations, competition, charity and sympathy, outrage and tragedy, righteousness and a seeking after justice, the notion of freedom and self-determination, sacrifice, labor and harvest, reaping and sowing, freindship, marriage, war and peace. To not acknowledge a greater plan or intent for our lives writes these all off to random particle interactions in the cosmic microwave radiation background.

If you doubt me, then try this experiment sometime- At SOME point in you life, even the most jaded and cynical of souls  will be moved to tears by their experience with one of the above-mentioned concepts. On that day, when your moment of clarity comes, and you find tears of sorrow, or of gratitude, or of anger, or of joy streaming down your face-I want you to go on a walk on a crisp fall day when the gold and red leaves are falling around you and the smell of freshly cut grass and the first chill of coming winter is in the air. Listen to the sound of children playing happily in the distance, and smell bread or maybe warm apple pie baking somewhere. Do that and then tell me there is no God, no meaning, no design, no intent and no purpose in this life. I dare you. If, on that day, you can feel and experience all that and you have nothing in your heart that says any of it it matters or has purpose beyond natural selection, then I won’t argue with you anymore because you’ll never get it. I know there are people like that in this life, and I pity them, these walking dead.

But life is not just a solitary experience or a path we walk alone. Men’s greatest hopes, aspirations and acheivements are only possible acting in concert with other men united in a common goal or faith in a way of life with common metaphysical underpinnings. For this reason nations are brought forth among men- groups of people dedicating their lives and labors to a certain way of life, which to them, seems most harmonious with what they perceive to be a greater intent, purpose, or meaning for our time here for a while under the sun and sky. And among these nations is my nation- America, which I love.

To understand why I love America, you have to look at the ideas and charachter of the nation within the context of metaphysical meaning. The interstate highways and the amber waves of grain are NOT what makes America worthy of our love. But rather the ideals, and the principles that govern it, and underlye it, which make lives of signifigance and goodness possible to live.

Freedom and Democracy are not just words or another theoretical model of social governance. They are the ideas of a good, noble, and morally upright way of life that is how Americans believe God INTENDED things to be for men. I can’t put it much simpler than that. The idea that these metaphyical concepts are proper parts of a greater design and plan than our own is WHY patriots hold our nation up as being worthy of  sacrifice and being worth fighting for.

 The true idea of America is not a mere physical place or a collection of persons individually pursuing wealth- but rather is the living embodiment of great metaphysical ideas. It is the idea of intrinsic human worth, of the divine INTENT for human liberty, and the notion that every human aspiration should be free to figure out what God intended each of us be. It is the idea that each of us is able to see down our own proper path a little further than another can, and the notion that Governments are instituted among men to preserve liberty, not to rule us. If you don’t view America within the context of a greater metaphysical plan, then you simply can’t get the real meaning of it.

 That lack of context explains to a large extent why so many are willing to let our nation slide into mediocrity and depravity- why so many are willing to let America stand idly by instead of leading in this world. It explains why some don’t see America as a shining city on a hill. Or as a light of hope in the darkness of this world.

Viewed in a godless, purposeless frame of reference, that’s all understandable. But I do see America in a greater metaphysical and spiritual context. And so do others. And that’s why we love her and why we love what she stands for. Not out of war-like boastfulness or competetive pride, but rather out of a love for the good things she has brought forth here on this sad, weary sphere of ours. I see the true spirit of America in every child’s lemonade stand, and in the purple ink that stains the finger of every sad, tired Iraqi citizen who thought that it was worth risking their life to go stand in line to vote. I see the true spirit of America in neighbors helping neighbors and in old men at the barbershop speaking their half-baked opinions on whatever they want without fear of government reprisal. I hear the true spirit of America lifted up in thanks to God for all he has given us, from the pews of ten thousand places of worship, and I see it in the flags that fly over the graves of our veterans who gave the last ounce of devotion and love for a metaphysical idea that is America.

Put simply, America is most properly understood within the context of God and his greater plan and intent for what humans can be if we follow that plan. Indeed, the Declaration of Independance basically is nothing but a defiant proclamation of what the founding fathers believed was God’s INTENT for Man. Read it and you will see that that is actually the case. It EXPLICITELY appeals to a higher justice and to a divine intent that man should be free. The whole nation and everything that it has brought forth since it’s birth therefore HAS to be viewed in that context to be understood. It was ALL built upon faith in a divine intent.Given that , it should come as no surprise that sometimes prayers lifted up to God for our nation capture and articulate the essence of America best.

I  want to share two prayers for America with you. They were not written by me- I could never write anything so beautiful, but rather were uttered by two Americans ministers at two memorial services seperated in time by more than a century. Both prayers captured with a few words some of what is best about our country. One prayer was given at a time of great national and personal sorrow, and another at a time of celebration. But both were spoken out of thanks to God for what he has given us. Both ask for his blessing and lay out the reasons why we should expect to hope for that blessing, by expressing succinctly the purpose of America within the context of God’s greater plan. Both prayers also remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice for a few metaphysical ideas that were deemed greater than the value of their own lives. Across so many years, and through so many trials and tribulations that this nation has been through, it is remarkable to note how much these prayers have in common.

The first prayer I want to share is one that was read by Major General Lorraine Potter, US Air Force Cheif of Chaplains, October 11nth, 2001 at the memorial service that was held to honor those who died in the 911 attack on the Pentagon.

” Let us pray. Almighty God, from the watchfires of a thousand circled camps, to the flames within the Pentagon offices, the World Trade Center, the Pennsylvania landscape… Our great land has known the brutal sounds and sights of war. The truth of Democracy, the truth of goodness found within this nation goes marching on. You destined our great nation to be birthed as a free land from sea to shining sea. We have taken our purple mountain’s majesty and made them a shining beacon of hope to a world in conflict. We have been inspired by your holy grace to use our amber waves of grain to feed the hungry of the world. We do not forsake our destiny now. We remember those who have now made sacred this hallowed ground by the sacrifice of their lives. Bless them and those who celebrate their lives and deeply mourn their loss. May the citizens of our nation be inspired by the devotion and service of our national leaders, and of all soldiers, sailors, and airmen, marines, coast-gaurdsmen and civilians of our military in the removal of terrorism from this world. May this and all nations be assured of our thoughtful seeking after Justice. Creator God we stand in the history of your presence within our land, assured that you do bless America today and into the challenges of the future. May our world see that you oh Mighty God, Jehova, are indeed in this place. God bless all those who serve the cause of freedom, and God bless America. ”

The second prayer I want to share was sung as a hymn at a service held on July 4th, 1847, to dedicate a monument that was erected at the Old North Bridge in Concord Massachussets to the memory of the farmers who died there and fired the first shot of the American Revolutionary War. It was written by my favorite poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

“By the rude bridge that arched the raging flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conquerer silent sleeps;

and Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We set today a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem ,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To Die and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee. ”

The hearts that wrote those words and lifted up those sentiments to God on behalf of America spoke for me too, and were inspired by the same love I have in me for this nation, and for human liberty which she rightly stands for. I know I am not alone in that.


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The Most Worthless Generation: An Essay on the State of American Culture – by Ty Harris… 

          On my last day of work prior to the 4th of July holiday weekend, an older gentleman whom I had spoken to the prior day about some routine business matters , called me up for the sole purpose of apologizing to me for having used the term “Son of a Bitch”  in our conversation. Now I, being 36 years old, and having been exposed to appoximately 3.5 million oaths, curse words, and assorted vile imprecations in the course of watching television several hours a day since I was five, had not given it a second thought, and I was very surprised that he would think it important enough to make such a phone call. He hadn’t even used the term in a hurtful or depricating way when he said it, but rather just as a reference in casual conversation to something or other. I had been in no way offended by his use of the term, but he- having grown up in a much different time, when much better manners were commonly in use- had felt bad enough, that he had gone to the trouble of calling me just to explain that he was sorry for letting the word slip, and to let me know that he doesnt use such langage usually. That’s the kind of phone call you dont get every day, and it really made me think. It brought home to me in great clarity just how different things were in this country once-upon-a-time. 

          Later that evening, I was standing in line at Barnes and Noble waiting to check-out. In front of me was a  family. A well-dressed man in his late twenties or early thirties, with his wife, and their young child- a cute little girl-about eight years old- in a dress. Directly behind me in line were three young men in their late teens or early twenties. They were all dressed more-or-less like Eminem, and were talking loudly and behaving boisterously- joking around. Every other word out of their mouth was “Fuck” or “Bitch”. I could see that the parents in front of me were obviously uncomfortable with this kind of language being used in front of their child, and I felt a boiling rage building up inside me as these cretins went on and on with their loud, foul language in front of the little girl. I gave the rowdies my best “Clint-Eastwood-right-before-he draws-his- six-shooters-and-guns-your-sorry-ass-down-in-the-street” stare, but they just ignored me and kept yucking it up, obviously not caring about anybody else around them.

       Driving home from the book store, I was stuck in traffic at a light, and as I pondered how much I had mellowed since I was in MY late teens and early twenties ( when I would have waited outside the store for the above-mentioned miscreants and taught them a lesson in respect with my fists), on both sides of me were some late teens or early twenty-somethings. My car was literally shaking from the bass vibrations eminating from their stereos. I am positive that they were audible from a quarter-mile away. As I sat there with a growing headache,  contemplating why it is that these ridiculous people were deriving enjoyment from playing loud thumping noises for no apparent reason ( did they want attention or what? ), traffic began to move. These obnoxious noise-polluters accelerated past me in their crappy honda civics with their buzzy little aftermarket mufflers, like a scene out of some low-budget remake of “The Fast and the Furious” ( easily the worst movie ever made ). As the bass gradually subsided, I looked to my right and walking down the sidewalk, were three teenagers with their pants sagging, six inches of their underwear showing, and their butt-cracks clearly visible. I caught the eyes of one of them, and shook my head ostentatiously. He laughed ostentatiously in return.

           I finally got home, and with a box of Ritz crackers in hand, and a cold carbonated beverage at the ready, was preparing to eagerly delve into Newt Gingrich’s new historical novel on Pearl Harbor. That’s when the bass started coming from my neighbors- thumping through my walls. It was the Twenty-somethings upstairs acting in their usual disprespectful manner. I stepped out on to my balcony and the smell of pot was vaugely detectable. I went inside, turned on my Air Conditioner to drown out the thumping, and went to sleep. I was tired and it had been a long day.

The next day- it being the 4th of July, I engaged in the yearly, obligitory, ritual-viewing of “Saving Private Ryan.” The movie, and indeed the history that the movie depicts, really comes down to not much more than a bunch of teens and early twenty-somethings of a different generation, in a different time and place, making sacrifices that I cant even imagine- and in the process, becoming what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation”. And I couldn’t help but compare and contrast that generation with the bunch coming up now. How far we have fallen…

          They say that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put the frog in the water and turn up the heat slowly, it will just sit there and cook to death as it’s environment changes gradually. Sudden threats are easier to deal with than insidious ones. You are forced to deal with imminent crises whether you want to or not. But gradually occuring crises can be put off and put off, and before you know it, the situation has gotten away from you.  I think that the frog example above  is a good analogy for what happened to our culture. Imagine your parents- or, if you are a bit younger, your grandparents- sitting in the den with the kids watching “I love Lucy” on their black and white television back in the 1950’s, and all of a sudden, on their screen were to pop-up a 50-cent video, with a bunch of half-dressed hoochie mamas gyrating suggestively, and a gangster-criminal cursing every other word, all-the-while advocating murder, drugs, gangs, race-hatred, and disrespect of women.  What would have happened if the people of those times had gotten a sudden look at what their culture was to become? Bloody Riots is what would have happened. If the purveyors of this subversive and obscene filth had trotted out this garbage in the Eisenhower era, they all would have been dragged out of their hollywood studios by the good-and-rightly-outraged-American-people, and strung up from lamp-posts by their necks. And now? Well… we’ve seen so much already, that nothing is really shocking anymore. It happened so gradually over the years- a slow, but persistent lowering of standards, bit by bit, that we were able to avoid dealing with until it got away from us. We are numb.We shrug our shoulders, go home after work, close the door behind us, and try to create our own little oasis of sanity and decency in our own homes, even as we are surrounded by a culture that grows more crass and outrageous with each passing day. We accept as normal in our daily lives now, and as inevitable, that which is completely unnaceptable, and abnormal.

           And I am not just talking about music videos and bad manners in public.Low standards and low expectations seem to pervade the whole fabric of society now. In terms of respect for others. In terms of standards of acheivement. In terms of personal responsibility.In terms of accountability for personal choices. In terms of expectations we place on others. In terms of the tone and tenor of public and personal discourse on any topic whatsoever. Everything is ruder than it used to be. Cruder than it used to be. Less intelligent. The high rhetoric and rational logic of yester-year has become the simplistic sound-bytes and talking points of today.  Polite disagreement is impossible, and everybody who disagrees with me must be stupid or have sinister motives it seems. The standards for education in our culture have slipped so low that even the ability to critically reason, to rationally argue, or to objectively form opinions based on  non-emotion-based facts seems all but  absent.Public discourse is hateful, and shallow, and base. We have become a country of low standards, low expectations, low morals, and low intelligence. Our miserable failure of a public education sysytem churns out empty heads full of mush by the millions. If you have ever watched Jay Leno’s on-going segment called “Jaywalking”, you know that it graphically illustrates the apalling- and dangerous- ignorance of the current generation of young people. He will go to a college campus and ask students simple questions like ” Who wrote the Declaration of Independance” or “name any member of the Supreme Court”. Invariably these “scholars” are baffled by such questions. And they dont really care either. Their own ignorance doesnt bother them, and that’s truly the scary part. People like that are sheep who can be made to believe anything. Today’s college degree is not even the intellectual equivilant of a high-school diploma from the 1950’s. The standards and the culture have slid downhill to the point where the current group of late teens and early twenty-somethings coming into their own now are- in contrast to “the Greatest Generation”-  well on their way to becoming “the Most Worthless Generation”.

          How did it come to this? What happened in the intervening years to bring us as a nation to this point? What mistakes did we make as a society? Is it fair to judge so harshly of this generation? I have some thoughts on these matters, and I will share them with you. I will answer the last question first… Is it fair to judge so harshly of this generation? And furthermore, is it fair to even judge people AS a generation? I mean, we are all individuals, right? And we should all therefore be judged only AS individuals, correct? The kind of behaviors I gave as examples above do NOT accurately reflect ALL members of the generation in question, and so – you may ask- why should all be tarred with the same brush? I’ll answer that. In certain matters, we all are, and of course should be, judged as individuals. Our personal choices in our own lives, and in the lives of the people we interact with each day. But on another level, we all are part of a bigger whole too. The nation, the culture, and the world in which we live, is nothing more than the sum total of all of our choices lumped together- and not just the sum of the choices we make for our own lives, but also the sum of the choices that we make as to what we accept and expect from OTHERS.The culture results from not just what we do ourselves, but also from what we will tolerate, and what we won’t tolerate from our fellow man. What we are willing to fight for, and what we are willing to go along with . To an extent- whether we like it or not, we ARE all in this together, and the society that you walk out the door to every morning is, in the end,  what we as a GROUP have made it. What behaviors and customs we accept as a nation, what standards and expectations we set as a people, and through these things what we ACHIEVE as a nation, are not a function of the individual, but of what we as a PEOPLE do, or fail to do. Europe was not liberated by one individual. The Interstate Highway System was not built by a single person. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin didnt get to the moon soley by their own abilities and choices. The greatest acheivements of Mankind, and the greatest aspirations of human culture aren’t possible through individuals acting alone. As individuals, we can make small ( and important ) choices, but a nation’s great challenges can only be accomplished through large groups working in conjunction who share a common set of standards, core beliefs, and expectations. All of their efforts and hopes must be joined together in a common goal.  It is the work of a GENERATION  that leaves behind a world and a nation changed for better or worse. And so it IS fair to judge a generation- as a group- based upon what they did together, what kind of culture they left behind together, and how they made their mark on humanity together. In the case of the current up-and-coming generation, it is fair to judge what they HOPE to do- together- in these areas and fair to look askance at what they are currently doing- together- in these areas, for surely the seeds of what they will ultimately be and do as a generation can be seen -even now- in what they aspire to, what they hope for, and what price they are willing to pay to acheive these things. Based on what I have seen so far, things arent looking too good. They ask little, they expect little, and they aspire to little.

          I dont expect that these sentiments are going to be particularly well-recieved by the young hipsters who populate a large percent of the blogosphere, but before the outpouring of scorn and hatred begins, let me just say this- the way you distinguish between a true friend, and a fair weather friend is this- the fair weather friend will tell you what you want to hear. The true friend will tell you what you need to hear even when you dont want to hear it, and is willing to suffer as a result of saying it. I honestly do want the next generation to prove me wrong. I want the torch to be passed to a generation that will step up to their own responsibilities and their own challenges like the Greatest Generation did, and leave behind them a better world than the one their parents and grandparents gave them. But I think that if we are all honest here, we will see that things are not really trending that way. And so now is the time for brutal honesty,objective introspection, and candid commentary from folks like me who are willing to speak the truth, if  the young people of today are going to avoid actually meriting the title of  “Most Worthless Generation” of Americans.

          Before I offer some forward-looking suggestions as to how the late teens and early twenty-somethings of today can alter the terminal cultural trajectory they are on, I think a quick look BACKWARDS is in order- to see where we started out, to see just how far we have fallen, and to assess where we went wrong as a nation. In choosing a course forward, we may also want to look back at what challenges other generations have faced,  and how they rose to those challenges to make their own mark on history and human culture. History is always relevant to the future. Those who fail to learn it’s lessons are doomed to repeat it. The prosperity and freedom we enjoy today didnt just happen by magic. Every young American should look around the world at the billions of starving , opressed masses still living in the dark-ages today and say to him or herself ” there, but for the Grace of God, go I. ” All we enjoy today came about by the efforts, sacrifices, and choices of generations past who wanted better than misery, poverty, and opression for their families, and so they stepped up to their own resonsibilities and duties in their own times to make us what we are today, and to give us what we have. What we have, for the most-part, we did not earn, which may explain why we are so willing to squander it with bad choices, low standards, and low aspirations. We are children standing on the shoulders of giants that came before us.

          Where did the country go wrong? I think it all went bad in the sixties. Up until that time, we had a fairly decent culture. Well-mannered, well-ordered, and on the right track. Our national debt was less than what the federal government spends in a day now, taxes were low, government stayed out of your life for the most part. People relied on themseves and on their neighbors. The culture was less urban, and more rural by comparison. In the small Ohio town where my Dad grew up,  the family farm was a real way of life still,  for many, and it was a better way of life too. A lot of people left their doors unlocked at night. The Crips and Bloods certainly werent around, and if they ever HAD showed their faces in Byhalia Ohio, they wouldnt have lasted two seconds, because back then, gun ownership was considered a patriotic right and every family had one. People owned their own communities then, not the criminals, gangs, and drug-dealers. The outrageous crap that goes on in the streets in broad daylight every day now, would have been handled old-school, and in short-order by the communities of that time. People were more likely to know their neighbors than nowadays. Families actually sat down around a table to eat dinner together every night, and said grace before they ate. Most folks went to church on Sundays, and children were taught right from wrong. There were standards for behavior. When kids misbehaved, they didnt get a “time-out”- they got “the belt”. When I was a kid in school, Ritalin was not required to have quiet, attentive, respectful students in our classes. All it took was the threat of a visit to the principal’s office and an appointment with “Big Chief Hot Seat” ( the name we gave to the large wooden paddle used to punish ne’r-do-wells in Mrs. Blackburn’s class ). Kids were raised primarily by their Mothers, instead of by day-care providers, as they are now. That was possible, because the man of the house could go out and earn a living that would provide a decent standard of living for a single-earner family.The Mom could afford to stay home and raise the kids. Kids went to school and dressed properly, and behaved properly, and they learned a lot because they were held to high standards by teachers who cared about acheivement- not exuses. If you didnt live up to the standards, then you flunked. You werent passed, on the basis of social promotion and self-esteem. Students graduated high-school in those days being able to actually read and write the english language, and posessed actual mastery of actual mathematics, and a knowlege of real, non-propagandized American and World History. ( By comparison with the standards of 50 years ago, today’s high-school graduates are dumb as a box of rocks ). The Pledge of Allegiance and the Ten Commandments werent being dragged through the courts by the ACLU, and Amnesty International wasnt trying to get the prisoners at Nuremberg released like they are trying to get the Guantanamo Bay prisoners released now. The culture was more polite. People said ‘excuse me’. Men opened doors for ladies. Abortion was unheard of. Young men and women got married and started families. And young women didnt often wonder who- of their 20 sex partners- was their babies’ daddy. America was a growing , prosperous nation. Economically sound, more-or-less culturally homogenous, and rooted in a morally upright culture – confident of itself, and rightly proud of  itself as the proven bulwark of  freedom in the world- the liberators of Europe, and of Asia,- the great Arsenal of Democracy. ( Whereas today, many young people have been brainwashed by liberal public educators to look at America as the source and cause of all that is WRONG in the world- that is, if they hold any opinions AT ALL about their own country… ) It was an era of enlightenment and of optimism. In only a few short years, JFK would audaciuosly commit America to the seemingly preposterous notion of sending Americans to walk on the moon. ( Who ever heard of such a thing!) Anything was possible in those days, and the liberators of Europe and the destroyers of Nazi Totalitarianism passed the torch to the next generation in good order, to those who would man the ramparts of freedom around the globe for decades to come, against communist totalitarianism- from the Demilitarized Zone, to the Berlin Wall, and from the triple-canopy jungles of South-East Asia to the wind-swept steppes of Afghanistan, the watchfires of freedom were tended. The next Generation of Americans stepped up to their responsibilities and kept us safe and free, and took the torch from the Greatest Generation. Or at least some of the next generation did. But not all of it. And that’s where things started to go wrong.

          There was a cancer growing in the country too. Parts of the country maintained the standards and values of the prior generation, but a big part of the next generation turned their back on the old ways. The seeds of self-doubt, and the seeds of self-destruction that we are reaping today, were planted then, by the sixties Counter-culture. In that time, America split in two. Half the country held to conservative values and ideas. Patriotism and duty. The other half threw all that aside as rubbish, and started their own culture within the culture- in which the Most Worthless Generation was raised. I believe it’s how we came to be where we are today. The Counter-culture, and the drug-smoking hippies did this. But in spite of that fact, THEY do not merit the title of Most Worthless Generation, because while they may have led our nation down the wrong path, objectively speaking, you have to give them credit for having a goal, and for being commited to it. They get an “F” for judgement, but an “A” for effort. They wanted to re-make the nation, and the world- and they did so. They  turned their back on conservative values, and they did so with a veangance. The flag and the soldiers who gave them their rights- to do the things they did and say the things they said- were reviled and- literally-spat upon. The church was left behind. The conventional family unit, and the way families had been raised since time-out-of-memory were cast aside as obsolete. Women’s careers were more important than their children. Total abdication of morality, standards, and responsibility were the marching orders of  half a generation, and now we reap the results. The rude , crass, disrespectful culture of today is what you get when the parents don’t pass along the moral values of the previous generation. The Counter-culture wanted freedom without responsibility, and so we got abortion-on- demand, and sexual liberation. But  along the way, somebody forgot that  those tens of millions of unwanted, cast-aside, un-born babies were neccesary to continue to build the country and sustain our way of life. Now, we are a shrinking culture that can only replace it’s old and dying through illegal immigration and an all-out invasion by another country and culture. The nuclear family is gone, and the women are all now “liberated” from the home, and from raising children, but while they are out there working, nobody is raising or teaching the kids (the kids that still DO manage to be born in spite our busy schedules)- except television, day-care, and a public school system  that is busily instilling it’s own worldview and values. The Counter-culture wanted to change the nation on a fundamental level, and to do that required changing the core values and beliefs held by it’s populace. Control and domination of the public education system was absolutely critical, if the hippies were going to undermine the prior generation’s values and substitute their own in the next generation. The abdication of parental guidance, and the infiltration of educational institutions were essential components of their aspirations, and they acheived total sucess on both fronts. The result is what we see before us now.

          The economic underpinings of our nation are also a wreck now, thanks to the Counter-culture. And that will bear greatly on the hopes and aspirations of the Most Worthless Generation, just as their lack of moral upbringing will. The hippies ushered in the era of Big Government where our every need was to be provided for by beaurocrats. The Great Society it was called- but it didnt turn out so great. Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare alone, now consume most of the federal budget, and are totally insolvent and unable to meet their future obligations without financial and societal upheavals on a scale heretofore unseen. The national debt is so big, that instead of Apollo Programs and Manhattan Projects, the next few generations will be be using the fruits of their labors to pay off  interest on the bill that was run-up to pay for the disasterous liberal social-engineering experiments of the welfare state. The legacy of the unfunded ponzi-scheme entitlement programs that the hippies left us will be wrecking our nations’ economy long after they have shuffled off this mortal coil to meet whatever God their faith in Darwin allows them to hope to meet. To make matters even worse, the unfunded entitlements the hippies left us, are PAID FOR by debt that is held by the Chinese Communists- who can now bring our economy to it’s knees anytime they please by selling off their positions in American treasury notes. 

          But getting back to how we arrived at this current generation’s  plight….  The greatest acheivement and undertaking of the hippie generation was what they did to the education system. We spend more on education per student than any country in the world, but somehow the liberal establishment which  has taken over the education system wholesale ( 90+% of college professors self-identify as liberal ), manages to churn out students that are HISTORICALLY ignorant of basic reading, writing, mathematics, and history. Worse, they are utterly incapable of critical thought or rational argument. Right and Wrong, Fact and Fiction are equivilants now. Everything is relative, and it’s not our place to judge or criticize. Patriotism has been replaced with guilt at what we have as Americans, and kids are taught that America is the great antagonist of the poor, opressed peoples of the world, instead of their greatest hope. Fighting for what is right is not brave, it’s imperialistic. And according to the new moral relativism, we must accept other cultures as our moral equals, even when those cultures have as their foundation the denial of all human liberty. Our enemies only hate us because we deserve to be hated. Optimism and National pride is now replaced with guilt, and a reluctance to judge or to act. The Most Worthless Generation is now expected to meekly take our nation’s place in the world- not as liberators, or as a Shining City on a Hill- but as a  guilt-ridden paper tiger who frets in a corner of it’s cage- unsure of itself, while dangers gather, our enemies move against us, the darkness of islamic fascism spreads, and the jihadists plot our destruction. Evil in our time is to go unchallenged, even as Naziism and Communusm was stood-up-to by our grandparents and parents. The Most Worthless Generation just hopes that if  we will leave them alone, maybe they will like us. Truly, we are now innocents abroad.

         On the homefront-as a nation and a culture, we are free-er and less inhibited in our manners, customs, and in what we accept in others as appropriate, but is anybody really happier with the result? Is the neighborhood that your kids will grow up in better than the one your grandparents grew up in? Does anybody want to argue that the rude, crude society we have now is BETTER than it was before? Is Ozzie Osbourne really better than Ozzie and Harriet? Are we happier as a people? Are we better off? Oh sure, we have more material goods- but is our way of life more fulfilling? Sundays are about NFL football now, instead of church and after-church fellowship. The resolution on my HDTV is pretty damned impressive, but I’d trade it in a heartbeat to be 12 years old again- picking apples and shucking corn on a glorious summer afternoon, in preparation for dinner with a few neighbors after church-  back in rural Ohio… fields as far as the eye could see.

           At any rate, a large amount of the blame for what the current generation coming-up is, and is becoming, lies with their own parents, and with the society that these kids grew up in. I mean, when a nation abandons so many good and great things, in the space of such a short time, is it any wonder that the kids are going to be affected adversely by that? The Hippie Generation really screwed up our country, and their offspring looks well-positioned to screw it up even worse. But just the same, people do surprise you sometimes. Regardless of where we came from, we do all have a choice. And sometimes, personal choice and a desire for something better, can change the course of a life, and maybe even the course of a generation. Sometimes people who have every reason to fail,  don’t. While it’s entirely possible that the Most Worthless Generation may take the path they are expected to take, and continue the Hippie Generation’s slouch to mediocrity- onward and downward into out-and-out depravity, it’s also possible that the cynicism I see in a lot of young people will manifest itself in a desire to have a culture different and better than the one they unhappily find themselves in. It’s obvious that a lot of young people are unhappy with the way things are. They find their daily lives tiring, and spiritually unfulfilling. They feel like something is missing, but they dont really know what to  do about it. Those feelings may ultimately bring us full-circle as a nation. From a decent, morally-upright people who walked away from their roots- to the remnants of a dying culture who looked around at the mess they were living in, and decided that they wanted something better for their own kids- and chose to go back the old ways and customs that their grandparents knew in the beginning. We’ll see.

          Offering criticism and complaints without offering suggestions for a better alternative course of action is cheap and easy, so I will take the next step as well, and say what I think the Most Worthless Generation could DO- going forward- to change the path they are on. So…what would I suggest for the current group of teens and twenty-somethings to make their lives and their communities better and more fulfilling? How could the next generation take the shitburger that they’ve been handed by their parents and make fillet mignon out of it? What choices could they make that would reverse the trend they are currently on as a culture and as a nation?

         Well, for one thing- they- and all of us- need to quit being so self- absorbed. We live in a world of 6 billion people. You aren’t all that important. Get over yourself. If I was living in North Korea and my family was dying of starvation while a fat, lazy, selfish generation of Americans stands by and watches it happen, because we lack the stomach to fight, I would say, “Screw you AND your I-pod, jack!” The “Shining City on a Hill” looks more like a “Fading Hope Dissapearing in the Night”to some who are counting on us. We could cure cancer, cure AIDSs, feed the entire continent of Africa, AND liberate the entire world for Democracy with the insane amounts of  money we spend funding entitlements like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare- which all could have been fully funded by the beneficiaries of these programs if the money had been properly set-aside,  and safegaurded ( perhaps in Al Gore’s famous “Lock-Box” of SNL fame ) instead of squandered on the Great Society. This Generation’s failure to DEMAND fundamental entitlement reform means that all of the fruits of the Most Worthless Generation’s labors will go to nothing more than paying off debts and unfunded obligations instead of doing something good and great in the world. Demand better! Care enough about the poor and opressed peoples of the world to put your own house in order, so you can do the kinds of things that America was put on this earth to do.

       Try thinking of yourself as a part of the whole. Consider not so much what you can take and have, but rather what responsibilities you have to others, and to the efforts and sacrifices made by generations past who gave you everything you have. Stop focusing on the aquisition of consumer goods, and focus on making yourself spiriually and intellectually wealthy. Ask yourelf some questions that are more important than the things you usually fill your mind up with- what is the state of your family? What hopes do you have for your own children? What steps are you taking to make those hopes a reality? Are you spiritually right? What do you actually KNOW about the forces and events that shape your life and the times you live in? What are you a part of that is bigger than yourself? Learn something. Turn off the TV and read a book. Gain some facts. Invest in the aquisition of some knowledge. Why not learn something profound and interesting about the human condition by reading Shakespeare or Emerson, instead of playing Madden 2007 with your buddies today? Maybe you will form an intelligent worldview, and have some cogent thoughts about life, the world, and your place in it. Read history- learn some facts about the GOOD things your country has done, and maybe through that aquisition of knowledge, you will regain some confidence, some optimism, and some patriotism. Start with William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”. If you ask me, it’s the best book ever written. It should give you a more realistic perspective about America’s place in the world, and about your own generation’s responsibility to stand up to the enemies of freedom in your own time. Think about how the Greatest Generation responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor- even with their much smaller population and Gross National Product. Now compare that with what THIS generation has done in response to the attack on the twin towers. Pathetic isnt it? 150,000 troops for Iraq? And we cant even sustain national support for THEM? Previous generations fought the  Nazis and the Communists. What is your generation’s contribution to freedom? To save the planet from Global Warming? Will your great sacrifice be to drive a Prius? When your grandparents went to war, they did it old-school. They lost more men ( 23, 019 Killed in Action ) just in the Normandy campaign, than we have lost in  Iraq and Afghanistan combined, and gave up 407,300 American lives total in world War II.  And yet Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are falling over each other to see who can declare defeat the quickest, so we can retreat from our towell-head enemies in the face of the slightly bloody nose they have given us. Even with their vastly smaller population and GDP, the Greatest Generation assembled the following forces to go take some names and kick some ass- Army: 3.4 million, Navy: 4.1 Million, Marine Corps:669,000, Coast Gaurd:241,000. Let me reiterate- the US Coast Gaurd in World War II was signifigantly larger than our entire combat troop commitment to the Iraq War. Kind of sad isnt it? I wonder what the Greatest Generation thinks of the Most Worthless Generation’s “troop surge”. Dont’ believe the defeatists who say we cant win in Iraq, or win the War on Terror. It’s only a question of commitment.

          The biggest lesson that the Most Worthless Generation needs to learn is that there is such a thing as objective truth, and that right and wrong are real things. Not every culture and value system is equivalant. Remember- most folks in this world would trade everything they own for an American passport- right now, today. You have no reason to be ashamed of your country’s legacy to this world. Set aside the hippie zen of moral relativism and grow some testicals. Muslim theocracy is antithesis to all possible aspirations and progress that humanity could ever have. Un-intentional collateral damage is not the moral equivalant of islamic suicide-bombers who walk into elementary schools and crowded marketplaces to intentionally murder innocent women and children. Wake up and see evil for what it is. Fight it like your grandparents did- with everything you have.

         Embrace higher standards for yourselves, and demand higher standards of your freinds and neighbors. The rudeness, the crudesness, the disrespect, the filth and vulgarity- this is the cesspool you will be raising your own kids in. Make your neighborhood a better place, and instead of quietly going along with what you know is wrong, stand up and be counted. Get in somebody’s face and tell them you demand better behavior from them.

         Start insisting on fiscal and budgetary sanity from your elected leaders. Be willing to entertain debate about whether we should spend money on this thing or that other thing- but do NOT tolerate any talk of spending money you dont have and passing the debt on to future generations. If you want it, then pay for it with higher taxes, or by cutting waste elsewhere.  Demand that all entitlements be funded by the beneficiaries of those programs- not paid for by you and by your debt-saddled children. Demand reform! Bush may not be able to construct a sentence correctly, but apparently, he can add. The best thing ever put forward by his administration was his proposal to allow young Americans to invest part of their own retirement savings. It’s the only way Social Security can ever be solvent at this point, so let’s all get behind doing what needs to be done.

         Demand that your elected leaders take steps to re-make what America once was- to reclaim your standards of living. It’s one thing to argue that a woman should be able to choose to leave the home and pursue a career. It’s quite another when a woman HAS to leave the home, because the family can no longer survive on single-earner income.We NEED to reverse three economic mega-trends that have contributed greatly to the loss of our American way-of-life over the last couple of decades. They are…1) the unchecked influx of 10’s of millions of illegal aliens into the country who are willing to work for signifigantly less than what Americans make,  2.) the outsourcing of our industrial production base to foreign countries where the workers make much less money, and 3.), the trade imbalance that simultaneously wrecks our own nation’s budget, while it enriches our nation’s enemies. The various free-trade agreements that Democrat and Republican administrations alike have negotiated in recent years are probably the worst mistake in the history the Republic.  Take back your own country for God’s sake! Secure the borders, bring our jobs back home, and make it possible again for a man to support his family.

         Re-embrace the goodness that was- and still is- the foundation of America’s greatness. Demand a way of life that is more moral, more respectful,and more spiritually fulfilling. Insist that the things your kids are exposed to are appropriate. Teach them right from wrong. Do not tolerate filth from the television, or from the culture in general, and make that stick with the power you have as both a voter, and as a consumer. Take back your streets from the criminals and the gangsters. Demand harsher sentences for these people- life sentences if need be. Build as many jails as you have to. Lay down a clear boundary as to what you will tolerate from people. Work in conjunction with local law enforcement to make your neighborhoods safer, happier places. The police are not the enemy. They are there to protect and serve you, but they can’t be everywhere at once. Their power to do good is exponentially multiplied when the citizens act as their eyes and ears in the community.

         Use your economic and military might to spread political freedom and economic opportunity around the world. The kids of India, Asia, the Middle-east and Africa deserve every chance to have a good life, and to know what freedom is , just as your own kids do. Be willing to pay the price, and to lay down the sacrifice of both blood and treasure for the spread of Freedom and Democracy in this world. Someday, the world may be united in Peace and Freedom, and Humanity’s efforts and treasure can all be devoted to seeing what humanity is ULTIMATELY capable of- the end of all disease and want? , interstellar exploration?, species-changing breakthroughs in human longevity? Who knows what is possible? But we wont get to that place until we as a species, can work out a few common points of agreement regarding human rights, and regarding the personal and political freedoms that are the right of every living soul on the globe. To get to that point is going to involve more conflict. It’s going to involve more war. Just as prior generations had to pay a price to carry the torch of  freedom to the fields of Normandy, and to the archipeligos of the south Pacific, you have your own torch to bear and enemies to face.

          The “Enemy Without” is islamic fundamentalism. They have thrown down the gauntlet, and it’s yours to pick up, or to leave laying there on the blood-stained streets of lower Manhattan. It’s your choice. I know that your hippie parents brought you up in the infantile notion that “peace” was something you could achieve by the simple abdication of responsibility, and if , by peace, you mean the mere abscence of resistance to evil, then that’s true. But if peace actually refers to some kind of  ideal state that includes personal and political freedom, then a willingness to fight for it is required. That’s cold , hard truth, and you cant avoid it with clever slogans and the protest signs you and your buddies whipped up in your dorm rooms. Nothing worth having in this life is free.

            And a final word of advice to the Most Worthless Generation-don’t forget the Enemy Within either- the subversives, the liberal educators, and the hippie brainwashers who turned your country’s educational system into the miserable failure it is today.  Take back your schools. It’s YOUR money that is paying for YOUR child’s education. Don’t accept failure and mediocrity anymore. Don’t accept secular-progressive  brainwashing as a substitute for actual learning. Don’t accept social promotion and self-esteem building as substitutes for real standards. Flush the Ritalin, and bring back Corporal punishment. Don’t accept schools where kids graduate from high-school not being able to read and write. Don’t accept schools where the children run things, and the teachers fear for their own safety. Demand school-choice for parents. Demand accountability for results. Demand that patriotism take it’s rightful place in schools again, and send the anti-American subversives like Ward Churchill back to the hippie communes where they belong- not brainwashing your kids with your own tax dollars. Demand DIRECT control over your tax dollars as it relates to your child’s education. There is only one solution to reforming the current mess, and that’s vouchers. It’s not as sinister an idea as the Teacher’s Unions and the Democrats make it out to be. The government taxes everybody, allocates a certain sum for education, and sends that money back to the parents in the form of a voucher that they can spend on ANY school they choose that meets their needs and lives up to their standards. Vouchers gaurantee the same equality of opportunity for the poor, black kids of inner-city Washington D.C., as is enjoyed by the children of the rich white folks living out in the Arlington suburbs, who can afford to sent their kids to vastly superior private schools. Acess to excellence in education for all- regardless of race or economic origin should be the greatest aspiration of your generation. It’s acheivable, through market-based reforms, and it will plant the seeds for your own children’s opportunities.

         In closing, I just have one small request for all of you members of the Most Worthless Generation. Regardless of whether or not you aspire to change the culture or to create a better place for you and your children to live in- regardless of that- on behalf of all of the rest of us who have to put up with you on a daily basis, could you at least make a token effort to start holding yourselves to some minimum standards of behavior, and try to show just a tiny little bit of respect for others? Could you do us that small favor at least? Because I have to say- your standards, and your manners, have slipped so far that a lot of the time, you people are genuinely insufferable. If you continue on the path you are on, you’ll never amount to anything… Dont’ say I didn’t tell you so.

         I know I am going to get hammered for this essay by the Most Worthlesss Generation, and I am prepared to take my beating. That’s OK. My skin is tough. It was worth it if even one person of that generation takes anything I have said to heart, and tries to make a better life for themselves, and for their own children, by using any of my suggestions. Good luck, and God Bless.

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