I have heard many people say that the level of dishonesty and corruption in our society is no worse today than it has been in the past. I have done a great deal of reading about American history, and I take issue with this assessment. I believe there has been a significant moral decline in our society based on the fact that many people now conclude that they themselves are the final arbiter of right and wrong.
By way of example, Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, was recently being interviewed on one of the cable networks, and he was asked about his claim during the previous election cycle that Mitt Romney had failed to pay income taxes for several years. That was proven false, but the damage had already been done to Mr. Romney. Mr. Reed's response was: "Well, he didn't win, did he?" It was a blatant and unsubstantiated claim made in a politically protected environment. The worst part of this story is that not a single one of Mr. Reed's congressional Democratic colleagues condemned this prevarication, and other than Fox news, the story was largely ignored. It is extremely alarming that so many people are more loyal to their political party than they are to the reputation and moral standing of their nation.
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When party loyalty trumps a sense of morality, as a nation we are in great trouble. Such attitudes lead to bitter divisions and in many cases outright hatred, which causes people to viciously attempt to harm their perceived opponents. Such inappropriate internal warfare can only be met with glee by the jihadists and others wishing to destroy our nation and our culture. If we are trying to destroy each other, we are obviously making their jobs much easier. Because we are involved in a global struggle for survival, even though many of our leaders refuse to admit that, we must learn to stop fighting each other and recognize that many of the issues over which we constantly squabble are not Republican or Democratic issues, but rather are pro-American and anti-American issues – and we should be on the same side.
The IRS scandal, in which a feared government agency was used to harass and persecute political enemies of the administration, should horrify any American who loves freedom and the principles for which our ancestors died. In a situation where government agencies are stonewalling the congressional investigating committees and in which pertinent emails conveniently disappeared, honest people on either side of the political spectrum should be willing to admit that this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated under any circumstances and is a severe threat to our freedom and autonomy from the tethers of government intimidation. All of us should also remember that if one governmental department can escape responsibility for illegal actions by conveniently making emails disappear, others might be tempted to do the same. You have to wonder what kind of message this is sending to the next generations about honesty and integrity in the workplace and in life. Perhaps we are telling them that as long as you are slick and can cover up or redefine your transgressions, the truth doesn't matter and you can still be very successful.
How can people be expected to work for the good of a society whose leadership cannot be trusted? How can our military with its proud history of selfless courage be expected to continue such a tradition when our leadership abandons them as they did in Benghazi and says it was too dangerous and too late to risk rescue efforts? Why would soldiers in the future take on heroic risks for a nation that would be willing to abandon them when the going gets tough? These kinds of dishonest and cowardly decisions will have deleterious effects on the future of our nation. When we sacrifice our principles for political expediency, we end up in a very bad place. We must teach our kids the benefits of honesty and integrity. The concept of a clear conscience is worthy of discussion once again. The ability to concentrate on what one is doing because you're not constantly worried about skeletons in the closet is a topic worthy of in-depth conversation both for us and for the next generation.
At this critical time in our nation, let's remember that real leaders inspire by doing what is right and are more concerned with the next generation than with the next election. We can still bring honesty and integrity back to the forefront and combat the forces of greed, hatred and selfishness that are destroying this once proud and prosperous nation. It is choice rather than inevitability that we face.
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