AMERICAN MORAL DILEMMAS
BRYCE ON POLITICS
- The country suffers from a decay of morality, not politics.
As we begin a new year, the American people find themselves wrestling with essentially the same issues we’ve been addressing for the last few decades. This is not so much a matter of politics, which is nothing more than a means to an end, but rather a sense of what is right and wrong. Although the country’s roots are undeniably based in Christianity, this has been greatly watered down over the years to allow other religions and philosophies to have a voice in our system hence a growing disparity in some of our country’s most fundamental moral problems. Unlike some third world countries though, Americans tend to settle their differences through the ballot box as opposed to open hostilities. The polarization of the country is such, you have to wonder how long Americans can keep this working.
The point is, the issues we are fighting are based on an interpretation of morality; to illustrate:
ASSISTING THE NEEDY – One side believes it is a moral obligation to assist those less fortunate when it is in their power to do so. Others believe it should be legislated to force people to help others. Similarly, one side believes the less fortunate have a moral responsibility not to give up, work, and seek to better themselves, thereby not becoming parasitic. Others believe they should become wards of the state and be cared for indefinitely.
MARRIAGE – One side believes in the sanctity of the relationship between a man and a woman as a means to naturally propagate and create families with male husbands and female wives. Others believe marriage should be redefined to provide same-sex couples the benefits as found in marriage. Suddenly the definition of “marriage” comes under scrutiny, something unimaginable for centuries.
ABORTION – One side believes life begins in the womb. Others do not and permit the removal and killing of fetuses. The moral question thereby becomes how precious is human life and when does it begin?
NANNY STATE – One side believes citizens do not know what is best for them and, as such, the government has a responsibility to supervise the care of its citizens. Others believe human beings should be responsible for their own actions. The question becomes, do we take responsibility for our actions or are we too stupid to do so?
GUN CONTROL – The right to defend ourselves has long been a part of the Constitution. One side believes this fervently. Others blame guns for public massacres and contributing to the murder rate thereby urging for tighter controls on guns or the eradication of them completely. The moral question remains, does the person commit the murder or the weapon? Can weapons be responsibly handled or not?
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT – Should people face retribution for committing an infraction of the laws and rules, and if so, what is a reasonable penalty? Is the death penalty reasonable? One side believes in strong penalties as a deterrent to crime, everything from fines and corporal punishment to the death penalty. Others believe people should be reprimanded but not severely penalized. Again, the question becomes, are we responsible for our actions, and what is a reasonable penalty to discourage people from breaking the law?
ENVIRONMENT – One side believes we should capitalize on the natural resources in our possession. There are others who believe they shouldn’t be touched under any circumstance. The question becomes, can we use these resources without spoiling or polluting the environment?
TAXATION – One side believes everyone should pay their fair share to support the government. Others believe in progressive taxation whereby people with more money pay a higher percentage of their income in tax than those with less income. If the latter, is it fair that the higher earners pay for everyone else or will this deter innovation and effort? This ultimately is a question pitting capitalism against socialism.
GOVERNMENT – One side strongly believes government exists to serve the people. Others believe just the opposite, that the citizens are subservient.
These are all questions of morality and perspective. Politics is just a means to implement our sense of morality. 50-100 years ago, I think I could have easily answered these questions but we now live in a new world with a cloudier picture. The gridlock of our government and polarity of the people is clear evidence of this. For example, back in his day, JFK was considered a liberal Democrat. Yet he advocated tax cuts to stimulate business and the economy, and his mantra was, “Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This would be considered heresy today in his own party.
One could convincingly argue the country’s morality is in decline. Today we hear about animal cruelty, pedophilia, domestic violence, spousal abuse, and sexual predators, subjects which were virtually unknown just a couple of decades ago. When cheating and deceit become commonplace, and carry more weight than honesty and integrity, we have to admit a problem exists. Too often, people are ridiculed for practicing common courtesy, etiquette, citizenship, patriotism, honor, not being politically correct, attending their house of worship, or working professionally to produce superior results. This is clear evidence our values are changing and we are becoming morally corrupt.
The polarity of the country is less about economics and political ideology and more about an interpretation of what is right and wrong, hence the heated arguments over which direction the country should pursue, and the inevitable gridlock we are currently embroiled in. Politics is one thing, but morality is much more important to the individual, something worth fighting for, which is why I worry we are at a flash point in our country’s history. Living for an extended period of time, as we have in the past two, is unimaginable and may lead to our destruction.
Just remember, it is about our interpretation of morality, not politics. Then again, so was the Civil War, a bitter struggle which ultimately defined who we are as Americans for over 100 years. Now, what about the next 100 years; what will we consider right, and what will we consider wrong?
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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