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


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fractured Foundation


With too much travel, visits with friends and family, and local activities, I’ve been remiss in writing for my blog.  Being the lazy old guy that I am, I’m going to cheat and give you a post I wrote back in January of 2013.  Since it has application to today’s events and since most of you haven’t read it, I decided to post it again.  It’s worth some thought.  

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            "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”   This is a quote from John Adams’ address to the military in 1798.
            We’ve all seen pictures of men standing in soup lines during the Great Depression.   People were 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, line up for rations, 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?

            A brief glance at countries around the world provide a blatant picture of atrocities beyond belief, but here in the U.S., where our country was founded on Judeo/Christian principles, we expect more.  But do we still hold to those values?

            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, despite our personal fallibility.

            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. 

            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; free to establish our own personal “morality.”   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.


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