Ten years later, we look around attempting to measure where the nation is with respect to safety, the hunt for terrorists, and how our everyday lives have been changed. Part of me wanted to examine those topics, but I believe America's real threats aren't from terrorists.
I believe American leadership has been very adept at protecting the United States from physical dangers. Since September 11, 2001, American authorities have thwarted dozens of major terrorist plots (that we know of). The American armed forces have hunted down, captured or killed Al-Qaeda members -- including Osama bin-Laden.
We are proud of the service of all those who have sacrificed so much in this fight, but the United States has a much larger threat than Al-Qaeda.
The greatest threat against this great nation comes from within, from our own decadence. Not familiar with that term? The word means "unrestrained, excessive self-indulgence" or "moral decay." I believe either definition could be applied to this nation.
In the last 50 years, a wave of relativism has swept over the United States, allowing a more permissive attitude toward any action we rationalize for ourselves. On a local level, the Charleston Gazette is often fond of writing in its editorials about how "morality is evolving." Nothing could be further from the truth. What was moral has always been moral and does not change. While danger exist in applying absolutes to some moral situations, an even greater danger presents in refusing to recognizing any constants.
The supporters of relativism would argue no absolute norms exist for the world -- that we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even if that behavior conflicts with our own views. Such a line of thinking has distorted a great nation and placed it on the path of all great nations -- collapse from within.
One of America's greatest advantages is there freedom we allow citizens to enjoy. But in exercising the large amount of freedom allowed, citizens focus on if they are permitted to do something, and never asking if they should.
A scene from the 1993 film, Jurassic Park, illustrates the point. Two characters are discussing the ethics of the film's premise, the genetic creation of dinosaurs. The key exchange:
John Hammond: I don't think you're giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody's ever done before...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: ... your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.
Americans have become wrought with poor choices. And the wonderful freedom we have is used in some of the most vile and repulsive ways. We justify nearly anything so we won't feel the slightest twinge of guilt.
Although Europe far outweighs the United State in the erosion of morality, much of the rest of the world has developed a healthy disdain for what we have become culturally.
And in some aspects, other nations are right to look on us as an ugly culture. Examining America's music, art, films, television, behavior and overall way of living can be painful.
America sold out morality and culture -- because we could. Pornography annually generates billions of dollars in revenue and creates 'work' opportunities say relativists. At what cost? Promoting promiscuity?
We allow what is typically a personal, intimate act to be filmed and photographed for money. Would you want your child involved in this?
Our music has become so profane with its language, much of it carries a warning label about the lyrics. Pop star Katy Perry sings about her ménage á trois "last Friday night."
Rapper Eminem has a song that marginalizes domestic abuse. Incidentally, he has taken multiple opportunities to use his voice to disgrace the mother of his children.
Pick one of any hundred country music songs and it will probably have something to do with being drunk.
Greed has also taken root in American society, with the "I gotta get mine" mentality. Capitalism is essential to our way of life in the United States. However, our society has replaced capitalism with greed. To create business opportunities and make a great wage for yourself and others is wonderful and wanted.
But, look at the economic scandals just in the last ten years. The illegitimate business practices of Enron, AIG, and any number of banks have created some of the worst financial problems in American history. These scandals created long lasting effects on investors and employees, while sending out a ripple effect to the rest of the economy. And for what? Because of the greed of millionaires -- men and women who had tremendous wealth, but sacrificed the financial lives of others because they wanted more.
Television also reflects the decaying nature of the United States. What does it say about our people when Jersey Shore, Jerry Springer and South Park are three of our most highly watched programs?
President Barack Obama faces resistance to scheduling an address to the nation on Thursday night, because it would coincide with the opening game of the NFL season. The president addressing the nation about job creation is great -- just as long as it doesn't interrupt football.
So, why are these quirks of society so bad for America? They all send a twisted message of individualism. People are so bent on doing for themselves that they've lost sight of helping out their fellow man.
Individual actions are okay because if you want it, why not have it? And if it can't be bought or obtained immediately, then it must no be worthwhile. Such thinking is pervasive in America, and aided in our current financial crisis (bought a house lately?).
Need more proof? This summer, the members of both major political parties nearly caused a default on American loans because they were too stubborn to work together. Instead of putting differences aside for the good of the nation, they concocted a deal that left both sides more resentful than before.
Football coach Vince Lombardi often threw his arms in the air, showing disgust at the play of his Packers teams yelling, "What the Hell is goin' on out there?" I'm surprised more people haven't been yelling this about our society.
This is not an easily solvable problem. The government can't legislate many of these problems away. Like most difficult situations, America's moral decline must be stifled by self-sacrifice. We must put the good of others before ourselves. Volunteer to work with children in the community. Donate time and money to charitable organizations. And show people that you genuinely care.
Help turn back the the tide of moral relativism. Stop watching television and film that glorify violence. Examine the words of your favorite music. Help the country choose to go back to a sense of self-worth.
That is the problem with choice -- we cannot, nor would we want to force people to choose the greater good. They have to want it. The government is limited in the scope of its authority, but you are not. Help someone besides yourself today.