All opinions of guest bloggers are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Insider staff. Below is an opinion piece by guestblogger Veronica Hamel Kivela.
OPINION PIECE October 3, 2012
Submitted by: Veronica Hamel Kivela
Resubmitted on 5/18/13
GOOD, EVIL – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
As a young girl, I attended a Presbyterian Church. Our minister was quite clear in his belief that both good and evil exist in this world that God has made. His duty, as he saw it, was to explain the differences to his congregation educate us in the ways of judging each and detail the good life that could be ours if we followed the rules laid out by the church, our parents and our teachers. He also cautioned us regarding the pitfalls and pain that could befall us if we strayed too far from “the path”. America accepted it.
In my early ‘20’s, America experienced the 1960’s in all their glory. Many people were shocked at the rapid national acceptance of music glamorizing drugs and sex. They were also confused as to the ramifications and unsure what to do to stop what they believed to be the erosion of morality. However, it was not clearly defined so how could it be stopped?
Woodstock rocked the country and the senses, with thousands of our young people completely destroying a privately owned farm, trampling the fields and using the land as a bathroom. The rampant use of drugs and “free” sex along with the anti-establishment rhetoric reverberated through college campuses across America. Students were being convinced by their liberal professors to believe they were no longer students but elevated by passion to the position of teacher. Armed “hippie” rebels who took over the campus at Cornell University were not arrested, but praised by its president. The message they spread was that everything about America was wrong and only the young could turn things around, aided by LSD to help them see reality clearly and guns to convince opponents of the justness of their cause, just what impressionable college age young people wanted to hear. They appointed themselves therapists/pastors/saviors of us all.
America veered down a strange and unfamiliar path, twisting the reality we had always known out of shape until it was no longer discernible by most average Americans; all this to satisfy mob agendas that are accorded legitimacy even today. Hippies were portrayed as peace-loving, docile lovers of all mankind. They claimed only to abolish all war, redistribute someone else’s wealth so that everyone had an equal amount of everything. They insisted, because they truly believed, there would be no victims, no consequences, even unintended ones. The problem was they were willing to destroy other people’s property in order to force their peace onto mankind. Hence the guns. So much for promoting peace. America accepted it.
This new (or not so new) philosophy pervaded the education system, the music and entertainment worlds, the clothing industry, the churches and even politics. We gradually saw an increase in the creation of feel-good agencies such the EPA that only wanted to save plants and animals, again with no negative impact on mankind. We saw a rise in television shows portraying fathers as bumbling indecisive fools lucky the rest of the family lets them live there. This was the new entertainment.
When President John Kennedy was assassinated, America grieved while in a state of shock. How could this happen? Where did we go wrong? Rather than delve too deeply into what was happening to our culture, we settled for being told who fired the shot? Lee Harvey Oswald – THERE’S the only culprit!
The Viet Nam War raged on while we offered up our sons to be killed in a war our government had no intention of winning. On this issue I can agree with the “peaceniks”. It was still the age of believing what we saw on television, what we read in the newspapers and what our politicians told us was true. America accepted it all while consuming large quantities of antacids.
Just when it appeared the sludge covering us by the shifting sands of reality born in the 1960’s was over, along came the 1970’s. We had glittering discos, tight pants, short skirts and more sexual freedom than most of us could handle, thanks to “the pill” and the no-fault divorce. The National Organization of Women came galloping over the hill burning their bras, demanding equal pay for equal work, a noble goal indeed. It served to further convince women everywhere they had been mistreated and if they turned to the wisdom of NOW leaders, there was still time to redirect and improve their empty lives. NOW ignored the power they already had to begin a movement that needed no beginning. Women have always had power. They give life and are the heart of the home. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Did they not know that? Oh wait. Maybe they did.
We were offered no fault divorce to justify breaking up families so that Mom could fulfill her dreams to “have it all”. Unfortunately, this seldom worked as promised. With so many unhappy mothers, children were not thriving at home or at school. Divorced women were overworked and stressed beyond their ability to cope. Happiness, mysteriously, remained beyond their reach. They did NOT have it all. Frankly, they only had parts of most of it all. National Organization of Women told them to work harder. In other words, any failure was theirs not the theory NOW promoted. Women simply weren’t trying hard enough. America accepted it.
The eighties brought us Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey, explaining away all this unhappiness through guests whose dismal lives made us all feel better. The more bizarre the human being, the more likely it was you would see him or her on Donahue. The thrust of these shows was that if we were all more understanding, more caring, more sympathetic and willing to “get past this”, the closer we would all become. Just more. It was an unspoken and undefined given that intolerance, bigotry or any other difference of opinion must be eliminated from our national conversation and replaced with acceptable words and phrases. All we had to do was abandon independent thinking and reason. Ah, the beginning of censorship. Worse yet, the tipping point had been reached. Feelings were now superior to principles. Oprah declared it so and it was good. America accepted it.
“If it feels good do it” became the mantra. “I’m OK You’re OK” was selling like hotcakes. Now we were finding the right answers, guided by talk show hosts and thousands of counselors and therapists. Just embrace your feelings. Forget about all that thinking stuff. Besides, making a judgment would certainly be unfair to SOMEONE. Right?
Confused people sought to stop the nagging feelings that something was terribly wrong but was not being identified. They consumed sedatives by the million. Besides, thinking was no longer popular. Talk show hosts had declared it so. Gone was the willingness to consult our clergy for definitions of morality. Television would do it for us. As the song said, “All We Need Is Love”, treat everyone as our equal no matter how they live their lives. We were not to commit the social sin of passing judgment. After all, we were being told there were no bad people, only bad acts. In other words, we are not what we do. Just look past that. We were asked by the self-appointed intellectual elites to accept the fact that not only had we all been born equal, we also remained equal throughout life. We were worthy of admiration and respect of others. When respect was not offered, it was demanded.
It was not women’s fault if we were sexually promiscuous. Our fathers may have abused us as small girls or ignored us and only hypnosis would reveal all the ugly details. Fading from our dialogue was the presumption of decency on the part of parents in general and men in particular. We were all made aware of aids but we absolved from any responsibility for contracting it.
“It’s not my fault” became the bumper sticker to excuse abdication of personal responsibility in sexual decisions.Ah, the moral justification for promiscuity. Gone was the need for any self-discipline and personal responsibility. Ah, the beginning of justifying bad behavior and lessening the degree of bad behavior.
America accepted it. If we were all supposed to be so innocent and blameless, if this new way of living was so correct, why were so many of us in therapy?
Our politicians began to beat the same drum. Everyone had the right, not only to the expression of free speech, but to an audience. Everyone had the right to medical care with no consideration and certainly little discussion given to the cost. Everyone should have the right to a free education, prescription drugs and so on. A sense of entitlement had emerged on the national scene. People now had “rights” never defined before. Only in granting these rights (entitlements) could we all be equal and “feel” that we have an “equal shot”. And what of those who held up the Constitution and objected to any infringement? They were scorned and the Constitution was labeled an outdated document that should be “living” not some dusty old piece of paper drafted by dusty old white men. In this way it could be modified at the whim of society’s comfort level. Now we saw the destruction of the rights of one man for the sake of another and all with the full support of our government officials. Altruism had fully flowered in our society as a virtue. America accepted it.
The nineties brought us the “push the envelope” policy in entertainment and government, the slippery slope of Bill Clinton morality and the universally held belief that most bad behavior was simply a matter of bad choices. We didn’t need to be radical enough to call anything evil. We should be more kind, more understanding of human failings. Those who insisted on clarity were accused of being homophobic, puritanical, bigoted and any other name that triggered embarrassment or guilt. Our language was being changed, softened, and made easier to hear and swallow. America accepted it.
An interesting phenomenon was happening to the English language. The frequent use of slang was “in”, forming coherent sentences was “out”, using hand gestures was “cool”, the words “like” and” ya know” were substituted for actually explaining what you meant to say. Something far more insidious was happening to our language. Words were being substituted for other words to dilute or slant meaning. The synonym had become king. America accepted it.
Respecting persons in authority was old hat. The President of the United States of America could now be referred to in the media as “Bush”. Forgotten were many niceties of civilized America. Forgotten was the given that words have a specific meaning and purpose. Conversation was becoming irrelevant. America accepted it.
The new century was upon us. Technology brought us improvements in cell phones, morphing into iPods and druids. We no longer had to actually seek out another human being in order to communicate with them. We could call them on the cell phone or better yet, text them. But what shall we talk about?
Evil has become crime, crime has become a mistake, mistakes have become poor choices, poor choices have become alternative life styles etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Ah, the power of the synonym. Where there is no evil, there can be no need for judgments to be made, no punishment in this life. Let God handle that later on.
It is not evil or crime some wish to eliminate. It is the responsibility of deciding and the use of reason and logic that are required to pass judgment. If thinking and deciding can be suspended, think of the possibilities. America is grudgingly accepting it.
The wisest of our current crop of intellectual elites would tell you that these matters are far beyond our humble understanding, so why bother. Watch another episode of American Idol or Survivor. This is as much thinking as should be required of you. Intellectual pursuits are, after all, exhausting.
Who can we blame for the intellectual and moral erosion of American society? Do not expect your local, state or national politicians to assist in returning America to the land of free and the home of the brave. They are the perpetrators of this monstrous moral deception. Do not expect the moderates or those who reach across the aisle to stand firm on any issue for very long. They won’t.
We can blame the schools, yet who has tied the hands of the very people we hire to educate our children? What does it say about us when morning after pills can be dispensed to 15 year old girls yet they need signed permission slips to go on a school field trip? When parents threaten to sue administrators for enforcing discipline, who severed the ties that once strengthened the bond between parents and teachers?
Do not expect those clergymen and women who are sometimes more interested in counting the daily or weekly take in the collection plate to lead the Lord’s Army anywhere. Much effort has been expended concealing its own sins. Too many members of the clergy pray for a religious career free of conflict – free of the need to decide or insist that the members of their flock decide. They won’t make their parishioners uncomfortable for fear they might not return. Where will the money come from then?
We can blame the entertainment industry for seeking to put before us louder and more bloody thrills. We give them awards for their splendid portrayals and we send our young to their concerts to hear their messages of disrespect and hate spewed from electrical wonders. Who rewards their efforts with money, paying to witness their bad behavior?
We have relinquished much power in the past 50 years which I have described above. Little by little, we have turned over the right to decide to anyone who wanted it. We have been convinced too many times that our judgment is not valid and not needed. We accepted it.
It is not too late to learn but we must see the steady erosion of all that is good in our country and uphold and defend it. We must be willing to do the thinking necessary to clarify the difference between good and evil for ourselves. I once heard it said that what we see we practice, what we practice we learn and what we learn we teach.
Despite all the problems the United States of America is still the finest nation on this earth filled with good people of good will. We have the love of freedom born into us to give our children and offer to good men of good will in other nations who still live in the darkness. One thing I know to be true. When justice prevails, peace follows. But how can we establish justice if so many people are reluctant to take the responsibility of deciding between good and evil?
The power to put things right belongs to us – if we are willing to stop giving it away or throwing it away. More importantly we must stop voting it away. The power to put our homes, our communities and our nation back on the path to decency is in our hands. Being willing to decide what is moral for you and being able to articulate why you believe what you believe is essential. The willingness to actually live what you believe despite popular opinion is the hard part.
I believe America is at a critical fork in the road today. I believe we must answer the question is this action good or is it evil and what am I going to do about it?
Ayn Rand once said we are rewarded or punished according to the amount of thinking or non-thinking we do. Am I willing to decide? Am I willing to accept the consequences of my action or non-action?
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