We hear much about the good old days. Many say they never existed. It's just the old saw about the grass being greener on the other side of the hill. But I'm not so sure.
Material things produced in each new era are, taken as a whole, much improved. Witness the TVs, computers and so on of today as compared to those of thirty or forty years ago.
I fear the good old days refer to something other than things, however.
When it comes to things, these are the best of times. But what about personal integrity? How many of us today have, and steadfastly adhere to high moral principles or standards? How many of us value honesty and seriously practice it in our lives? If there was a time when these virtues were the norm, rather than the exception, then I would say those certainly were the "good old days".
To find examples of just such an age one needs look no further than cable TV. Check out a few episodes of Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best. Most of us find such simple drama boring. The plot is part and parcel of a simpler time; it takes more complexity to hold our interest today, some say.
May I suggest we find the plot of such shows too morally intense for our comfort? Perhaps we are even repulsed by the sincerity and moral fiber of the characters who lived in a time we long for, but know we can never have.
Our comparable programs of today, often called sitcoms, are shallow by comparison. The plot involves the most imbecilic of challenges and concerns. The heroes of such shows are invariably the ones who are best at deceiving and manipulating; the most entertaining characters are those who are the most sarcastic and the most accomplished at shunning, rather than assuming even the most basic level of responsibility.
But I miss the point, you say. Such shows are meant to entertain, not be road maps to the attainment of moral integrity. To which I respond, nonsense!
I love a good joke. Comedy, like laughter is certainly good medicine. But is it really funny to watch a group of actors pretend their pea-brained characters are actually confused and challenged by plots so thin they might take any kindergarten student five minutes to unravel?
To whom is such drivel entertaining? Exactly my point.
Today we pretend to be such strong persons. We are the masters of our world; a mighty race of beings poised to conquer the universe. Too bad our moral integrity has failed to keep pace with our technological advances.
Simply put, does anyone's word mean anything anymore?
Back in the Beaver's day, a hand shake was a pledge of honor. A persons word was their bond. You could count on most people to either do what they said they were going to do or at least tell you the reason why they couldn't. People communicated more on a face to face level. In doing so they found common ground that helped build strong communities and family ties.
Do you believe this is still the case? I think not.
Today we give our word without a second thought. It's become a thing of fashion rather than one of honor; merely part of the ritual of getting through the day. When pledges are broken and promises ignored, all participants appear to be shocked. If you really want to see genuine surprise, however, just live up to your word.
Everyone wants to know why we no longer seem to harbor a sense of honor or personal integrity. The answer is obvious. By their actions and deeds, most parents and role models teach their children that these virtues are nothing but meaningless words. Broken vows and ignored promises are the norm.
Two people take a sacred vow to love and care for one another through sickness, in health, for richer or poorer till death do them part. And then break this supposedly most sacred of all vows again and again, no matter who it hurts or how many lives it destroys.
People take all kinds of oaths without even the slightest intention of keeping their word. When a person becomes a "doctor"and takes the Hippocratic Oath, does he or she really intend to heal the sick and injured? No, they generally intend to go into the business of medicine and made a lot of money.
In the Beaver's day, your doctor came to your home when you were too sick to go out. More times than not, he or she made you well without so much as a single test or operation. Your physician made you feel your health and well being was actually important to them on a personal level. This caring was part of the healing. The money part was not the main issue.
I, for one, fear for the future of our race. We are morphing into something that is no longer human. We have lost our way because we have lost our honesty and personal integrity; the very things that make all other things in life sweet and good and desirable.
They are the bedrock upon which we construct the foundation of our lives. Without them, little else really matters.
Honesty and personal integrity are not free. They are like muscles that need exercise to grow firm and strong. As one develops their sense of honesty and integrity, things slowly begin to fall in place. Opportunities happen; friends gather around one and life just gets better and better.
These same virtues also help see us through the tough times as well.
If we wish to have a society of strong people, happy families and worthwhile organizations and institutions, we must once again embrace the virtues of honesty and integrity.
When looking at the fall of every great civilization, historians invariably point to one single condition as the main contributing factor: moral decay. Some would have us believe moral decay relates to matters of rampant sex and unbridled public indecency. This is nonsense! Moral decay goes much deeper than mere superficial behavior; it is the total disregard of individual honor and personal integrity among the vast majority of the populace.
In truth, there is a point where moral decay reaches critical mass within any group of individuals, be it a family, a club or church, a nation or an entire race. This is the point when the fabric holding such social entities together begins to shred.
The main symptom is easy to recognize. It is simply that point where individual integrity falls so low, people cease being honest with each other, and ultimately are no longer honest with themselves. When this happens, individual self respect also disappears, and with it, the discipline to maintain personal health through avoidance of excess, proper diet, exercise and prayer.
Thus are the seeds of our own destruction sown. New generations are born into a world without meaning where the pursuit of pleasure is the most admired form of behavior and the greatest source of positive reinforcement. No other course of action appears rational. Total chaos is the only feasible future such a society can expect.
I guess these will be the good old days, then.
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