It is good news when things are going well, and the report is given, “No Change”. That means that everything is still progressing, and the sender of that report is optimistic. But when conditions are toxic and the prognosis is grim, the words “NO CHANGE” are not welcome news.
The following excerpt is now 25 years old. And, yet the description of the needs of our country are still relevant. As you read this, you will sadly agree that there is “NO CHANGE” in our priorities, direction, or spiritual condition. We surely do need changed hearts, changed lives, and changed affections
There is a coarseness, a callousness and a cynicism to our era. The worst of it has to do with our children. Our culture seems almost dedicated to the corruption of the young. We have become inured to the cultural rot that is setting in. People are losing their capacity for shock, disgust and outrage…
The ancients called our problem “acedia”, an aversion to spiritual things and an undue concern for the external and the worldly. Acedia also is the seventh capital sin–sloth–but it does not mean mere laziness. The slothful heart is stepped in the worldly and carnal, hates the spiritual and wants to be free of its demands.
When the novelist Walker Percy was asked what concerned him most about America’s future, he answered, “Probably the fear of seeing America, with all its great strength and beauty and freedom…gradually subside into decay through default and be defeated, not by the communist movement, but from within, from weariness, boredom, cynicism, greed and in the end helplessness before its great problems.”
I realize this is a tough indictment. If my diagnosis is wrong, then why, amid our economic prosperity and military security, do almost 70% of the public say we are off track? I submit that only when we turn to the right things–enduring, noble, spiritual things–will life get better.
Most important, we must return religion to its proper place. Religion provides us with moral bearings, and the solution to our chief problem of spiritual impoverishment depends on spiritual renewal. The surrendering of strong beliefs, in our private and public lives, has demoralized society.
Today, much of society ridicules and mocks those who are serious about their faith. America’s only respectable form of bigotry is bigotry against religious people. And the only reason for hatred of religion is that it forces us to confront matters many would prefer to ignore.
Today we must carry on a new struggle for the country we love. We must push hard against an age that is pushing hard against us. If we have full employment and greater economic growth–if we have cities of gold and alabaster–but our children have not learned how-to walk-in goodness, justice and mercy, then the American experiment, no matter how gilded, will have failed. Do not surrender. Get mad. Get in the fight. (Excerpts from “What Really Ails America”, condensed from a speech by William J. Bennett, delivered December 7, 1993 at the Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.)