So many people are feeling it in the core of their beings.
The country has been unmoored from its anchor, an intangible one that for generations provided the stability needed to form communities in which people were able to reside together and care for one another.
We’ve known for a while that we had been drifting toward a destination that was strange and unfamiliar.
Now that we have seemingly arrived, we find ourselves at a place that is deeply disturbing and at times even intolerable.
An analysis may be helpful in understanding how the fix we find ourselves in came to be. It is also useful in a self-comforting kind of way, societally speaking. And it may prove especially helpful in figuring out ways in which we can get ourselves back on course.
Every society has an underlying ideology upon which beliefs, attitudes, norms, customs, institutions, etc., are structured.
Years ago a destructive type of worldview took root. As things would have it, this harmful ideology burgeoned over time and ended up displacing important foundational building blocks of our society, including those of civility, integrity, respect, and the like.
A new Gallup poll provides a key to understanding what happened.
Gallup’s recent Values and Beliefs Poll found that Americans’ belief in God has dropped to the lowest level since the polling organization first began to gather research data on the topic about 88 years ago.
From the 1940s to the 1960s, a consistent 98 percent of Americans indicated that they maintained a belief in God. The rate of believers has since taken a steady downturn, hitting an all-time low of 81 percent in 2022.
Gallup’s data indicate that in recent years belief in God has declined most significantly among young adults and those who are of a politically liberal persuasion.
Removing God from public life has been a goal of secularists, who for a long time now have been hard at work restricting religious expression in all major American institutions.
Prayers, holiday celebrations, music, etc., which since the nation’s founding were culturally unifying aspects of American life, have been supplanted or, in some cases, completely removed.
In his Farewell Address, the country’s first president emphasized the importance of religious values as he assessed the future of a then-budding nation.
“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports,” President George Washington said.
His words were very precise. If an indispensable support is absent, an entire structure is destined for collapse.
Most people are aware that, despite the capacity for goodness contained within each and every individual, there is a dark component of human nature that lurks below the surface.
The Judeo-Christian explanation of this concept, and for the existence of evil itself, is the notion that humankind initially had a virtuous nature but early on took a precipitous fall from grace.
Judeo-Christian values in large part serve to restrain the human tendency to indulge in the most negative inclinations, which are manifested societally from street gangs to government corruption.
Without constraints on evil, society will become spiritually ill. Such sickness results in a culture that literally hits bottom, with the attendant failure to protect the most vulnerable and an apathetic attitude toward injuries suffered.
If God does not exist, then what is determined to be good or evil becomes merely a subjective human construct.
If no guidelines are in existence when decisions are being made regarding which ethical options would be preferable, then in conflicting situations the self-interests of decision makers will inevitably rule the day.
If good and evil are only human concepts, then morally upright actions will take a back seat to expeditious ones.
To cut to the chase, if God doesn’t exist, then neither do objective moral values.
In his book, “The God Delusion,” atheist-author Richard Dawkins wrote the following: “It is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones.”
Any system of government that lacks moral underpinnings is a system where freedom cannot flourish or even be mildly sustained.
As promised, God stands in the way of would-be tyranny, if those who keep the faith take to their knees.