Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Thursday, January 24, 2013

What's Missing ?

     Since I know many of my readers personally and based on emails I receive, I know that most of you share my concern for the direction our country is taking. I think you’ll agree with me on what I see as the basic problem. I want to be clear that I’m addressing our culture generally.  Not you and I as individuals.  Most of us would fall into the category of the “resistance.”

            We’ve all seen pictures of men standing in soup lines during the Great Depression.   People lined up for rations to feed their families.  Some tried to get menial work.  Anything to provide for their families.  My dad told me his family made soup out of chicken feet.

            What can we expect to happen in our cities if we had a depression today?  Would people sell an apple, eat a chicken foot, or would the “uncivilized” element go on a looting rampage?  Remember the rioting in Los Angeles in 1992 and the post Katrina riots and looting in New Orleans? What has changed since the Great Depression? 

            Japan went through a tsunami with devastation beyond belief and there wasn’t a single report of looting, killing, riots…nothing.  Why?

            Do we have such a thin veneer of civilization in this country that a brief loss of electricity, a flood, or a trial verdict, for example, can provide a catalyst for the savages among us to plunder, rape, and kill? What does Japan have that we no longer have?  

            Are we as civilized as we pretend to be?  Are white collar crimes or government malfeasance different than looting from a moral perspective?  Could this relate to the lack of a commonly agreed upon moral code?  Japan has its problems, but evidently they agree on a moral standard of some kind.

            I’ve come to believe that the basis of every problem in our modern culture is based on moral ambiguity.  That belief is reinforced daily by what I see happening in this country. 

            The concept of moral relativism and the rejection of any authority higher than man could result in nothing less than confusion and a “disconnect” from a moral standard based on something outside of one’s own personal design.  By definition, morals are standards outside of ourselves that we believe in and strive to live by.  Personal opinions don’t count.

            Back when I was a kid in the ‘50s we knew what was right and what was wrong.  The fact that we chose “wrong” didn’t make it “right” and we knew it.  That moral gyroscope might have failed to inhibit us on many occasions, but it functioned as an essential guide and still does for many of us. 

            If you take every aspect of our culture, from economics and social issues to politics and the media, at the root of any problem you will find a missing or compromised moral imperative.  Something has changed.  We are not Japan.  But are we still America?

            Now that we as a society have thrown off the shackles of “that old time religion,” God, and any accountability to a higher authority, we are free to set our own rules.  Fyoder Dostoevsky said, “If there is no God, everything is permitted.” 

            Law has replaced our former moral underpinnings.  If it’s legal, it must be moral. Legality equals morality to many.  Abortion may be legal, but is it moral?  And laws can always be changed to be more accommodating. 

            Morality restrains us from inside.  The law restrains us from outside.  In other words, if there is no internal moral restraint, the law will apply controls externally. 

            We have a culture that has filled our vacuous morality with flexible legality.

            In short, we have managed to destroy America’s primary moral construct. As John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  In my opinion, that’s why we are where we are.


  1. I agree with everything you have to say here Ralph. The country has certainly changed and not for the better.I am sending this on to a few friends who will enjoy the read and also agree.
    Your ole pal,

    1. Thanks, Jim. I hesitate to get into more serious topics, since I'm not sure what people want to read. But I thought it was time to get serious, if only for a change of pace.

  2. Very nice job, as usual, Bro, in evocatively describing the cultural ills in our country. However, I think "what's missing" goes even farther than country and culture. It is more than (a destroyed) "America's primary moral construct" (however you might construe that to be) that worries me. I think our concerns might be much more universal.

    The ancient prophet Jeremiah once observed, "The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse — who can understand it?"

    So maybe the heart problem -- not limited to America -- presents an even more thorny and expansive dilemma.

    1. Rog -
      I agree. I was careful to localize the problem to the U.S., because it's easier for us to relate to, but it is a universal problem. You have to start with the premise you mention in the quote, i.e.the perverse heart or devious nature of man. That takes it to another level, but I cut my article down about as much as I could to bring it "home" in fewer words. Many people mistakenly believe that human beings are at base, good. Not true. The book, "Lord of the Flies" points that out as does the Bible.

  3. Good comments Ralph. Hard to put in words what we're seeing day-to-day, but one thing is sure the the country is shifting and they want to shift soon. I'm sure we'll not gain an inch of benefit from a group of politicians that says, "I'll never compromise my position." James Madison, and many othersof his peers had to compromise in large measure that we now have a Constitution that has worked these many years. While his compromises were actually giving up many principles he believed we should have as a starting point, we eventually got many of them in as amendment after amendment brought his and his compatriots ideas out from behind the curtain. We must make the entire group of political opportunists, democrats, republicans, and this intractable president understand that they will obey the will of the people, misguided though it may be. If the majority wants to move in a particular direction, we must move or they lose their jobs!
    Sorry, Flame off!

    1. Malcolm - That would be fine if the "majority" was informed. Nevertheless, I'd like to see all of these politicians lose their jobs. Better yet, I'd like to require an I.Q. test to vote.

  4. Ralph, I think our ancestors from the beginning of voting time have all said the same thing; "if the majority was only informed, (intelligent, understood the situation and so forth) then it would be alright if the majority rules." However Ralph I suspect they/we never did match up with that requirement. But still somehow this country has survived, prospered and for all we complain about we usually do pull up short of the catastrophic ending we all fear. We may not pull up as soon as you and I would like but we do muddle thru. I want to believe that we are guided by a higher power that, as unconcerned as she seems to be, will still gently guide us thru changes we may not think are necessary but will provide our country with a needed approach in the future. I just hope this is the case!

    1. Malcolm -

      You mean we have a woman driving the bus? Now I'm really scared...It's not Nancy Pelosi is it?

      Thanks for a good counter-balance.

    2. It seems to me that we fail to acknowledge that we live in a fallen world. This week I listened to a certain Pastor remind the listeners that Jesus did not argue with Satan when Satan offered Jesus the Kingdoms of the world. This explained in scripture that this authority is granted on a temporary basis. Soon we will see the enemy rendered void of influence and power.
      We know but don't focus on the HOPE we have knowing that our faith is based on a historical fact of the resurrection of Christ. Because HE rose from the grave, we too will one day be with HIM

      It is so sad that many we love and care for have NO HOPE.
      from the north

  5. I would "wax" eloquently about this subject but rather than sound "dumber than molasses" I shall just say "I agree"!!!!!