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At the end of the day whose values do you want to live by?

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.

Without a clear set of values identified, one wanders aimlessly-becomes a person motivated by feelings, the latest trends or the current important people in one's life. Additionally, most secular people, when push comes to shove, are unwilling to stay the course-they do not persevere as do those with religious values. The definition of secular I am using can best be defined in the following:
  1. pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred
  2. not pertaining to or connected with religion
  3. education, a school concerned with nonreligious subjects.


This is not a "versus" piece by any means nor is it a treatise on values. It is useful to be clear when discussing the concept of values and their importance upon the formation of beliefs and thus the predictor of behavior. Nor do I suggest that secular believers cannot operate from a firm belief set. Rather, I want to present the notion that any long-term group behavior that is consistent in its behavioral application is primarily found among those individuals possessing a committed belief system usually grounded in religious teachings.

Why is any of this discussion remotely important in today's world? I believe that our way of life in the West is being challenged if not threatened by a group that possesses another set of life values and they seek to initially import it to our culture and over time make it the determinant set of values all peoples must live under. Furthermore, all of this is transparent-we not only "sense it", we can observe it occurring daily.

My premise is as follows: The United States of America was created upon Judeo-Christian beliefs and values. Our legal system was based ethically and morally upon these same values. The design and structure of our operating and administrative systems follows a set of values that reflect these ideas. Our social systems, education programs and to a large degree our economic systems fall in line with the groups' interpretations of these values. Specific individual and group behaviors have been created and infused within our American population. Up until the late 20th century, a large part of America's success was the ability of all people identifying themselves as Americans to adapt, adjust and assimilate into the "American Culture".

Europe is discovering today what it took for America to accomplish over 200 years ago and we still are a work in progress. They are attempting to form a European Union aka United States comprised of former European countries. Frankly, they have much to do and much to learn from us. Consider for a moment that our USA is comprised of 50 different state entities, diverse in geography, politics, peoples and behavior. Yet, we function reasonably well, all 300 million plus of us because through most of the 20th century we believed it was important to continue the assimilation process. We are in fact an amazing social experiment. However, this process so crucial for a country attempting to create daily living standards and opportunities for all of its emerging diverse populations is no longer functioning well. Like the metaphor or not, we are a country that must be a melting pot of some sort or we shall fall asunder.

On a micro level, let us examine a functioning family. Common to most families that "get along well" are the following:

HOWEVER

Extrapolate the preceding to our United States of America. These nine attributes are part and parcel of the assimilation process and represent outcomes that are necessary if numerically large numbers of diverse cultural groups are to successfully co-exist. When anyone of the preceding 9 attributes ceases to function, upset, anger and the act of disconnection begins. It seems to me that an erosion of more than one of these attributes began toward the latter part of the 20th century and it has carried over into our present time.

It is past time for us as a nation to acknowledge what has happened and identify what needs "tweaking" or if necessary, what needs to be fixed. We know what it takes for families to work well, let us apply these same attributes to our country.

HOWEVER

This is what we have historically valued. It has produced in less than 280 years, the most robust way of life known to humankind. Imagine this, in such a short period of time we Americans have created a way of life that so many others flock to participate in-every day more and more join us. However, we have become complacent and have developed an entitlement mentality. We even, when challenged appear to feel guilty -some of us seem to be ashamed of what we have and what has been created for us by so many previous hard working generations. So many now do not appreciate what it took to create what we get to enjoy every day. Many are willing to invalidate what America has accomplished and for what it stands. For reasons known only to themselves, people are now investing time, money and energy to eradicate what we, our parents, grand parents and all previous generations have built.

Not only is this unfortunate, it is dangerous for the well being of our country and way of life. When challenged most Americans will not stand up for what they think is important. When queried about one's values, we shrink from such discussions. We acquiesce to other's demands lest we offend them. America's enemies know this and are counting us to shirk our civic duty.

Those who are firm in their beliefs do stand up. Human behavior has taught us that once you honestly have confirmed beliefs, your human actions and behaviors are usually congruent with them. You act as a human being with integrity. Secular and religious individuals alike are capable of behaving in this manner. Mainstream America is not standing up, not yet. Unlike our enemies, I believe that Americans will soon stand tall and proudly announce and then defend those values that have made us proud to be an American. Our enemies should not underestimate the power of our beliefs!



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