America was founded on a strong character ethic–a Judeo-Christian ethic. Our country started with individuals who had a an internal true north pointed toward a strong sense of universal principles like hard work, honesty, kindness, justice, compassion, community and so on.
This is why the Founding Fathers said so often that “good government is based on self government.” Their point was that the way to have a good and limited government was for people to govern or discipline themselves. And, that is indeed what happened. People were disciplined around a set of principles or straight lines. They self governed which allowed for minimal external government. For instance, if a person is honest and lives by “my word is my bond” it minimizes external controls such as extensive, detailed legal documentation, courts to settle disputes and lawyers to make the case.
But we began to loose our straight lines. How? Some of my thoughts are…
- We’ve become more dysfunctional as a culture debilitating our ability to stay true to core value.
- Materialism has tended to make us less needy and dependent on character-based living due to apathy.
- Our faith-based institutions have ceased to elevate right living with a sense of urgency.
- The media has elevated values and principles that counter fundamental goodness and character.
- We’ve sought quick fixes and taken shortcuts that have lead to the violation of our core values.
- The family breakdown has confused values such as loyality, commitment, love, fidelity, etc.
- We’ve drifted (more on that in my next blog).
What do you think? I’d like your feedback on this and get your insights. Let’s try to figure this one out for all of our sakes.