Be afraid for America. We've had it too good for too long, and it's caught up with us. Nothing stays the same, right? We, things around us, the world itself are all in flux — aging, decaying, eroding, cooling, dying.
Atoms and molecules aren't at rest. They're in motion, always trying to escape the confines of subatomic space. Laws of physics keep them bound, creating orderliness out of chaos. Eventually, these yield to the immensity of time, causing collapse into entropy and a return to chaos. Entropy is a process, an unraveling of a system.
Man-made systems are not at all different. Careful arrangements of papers and books comprising laws, writs, and documents comprising treaties and constitutions — all are in various states of repair and effectiveness. Is the obsolescence of a governmental system an inevitability, like a physical system's entropy?
I don't fear what will happen in billions of years; it's the next twenty that worry me. Some claim that our Constitution is ancient, out of touch, and unsuited to today's problems. They want to modify it, change wordings, add new meanings, take away rights, create an entirely new system from which to govern. But we evolved into greatness based on our Constitution. How can we know that change or replacement will be better?
Unlike atoms, human behavior is not uniform. It gives rise to differing ideas and outcomes. To measure the superiority of one over another, we must study the societal happiness generated by each idea or system in relation to the whole. How many thrive with meaningful fulfillment in their lives compared with other types of governance?
There are indicators of societal health, but quantifying them can lead to differing conclusions. Still, seen objectively from a macro perspective, the nation's longevity, GDP, population growth, advancements in science, mortality rates of young and old, societal benevolence in times of emergency, incarceration rates, and percent living in poverty all suggest that America has been one of the best for more than 100 years. This is a fact, whether you agree with the criteria or the overall assessment or not.
Think of America as a system susceptible to entropy. Tampering with intrinsic parts could trigger the process, making it lose its unique and exceptional character. Some expect that this is a sociological inevitability — democracies are doomed before they begin. But what if it's the dumb ideas of an ignorant few who insist on seeing the world on a utopian palette? Or a few others who desire an oligarchic New World Order? Most know that the first is not possible, the second to be avoided at all costs. Can we allow such ideological tinkering, motivation, and selfish hopes to justify taking such risks?
America was fashioned from a strong work ethic, Judeo-Christian values, respect for law and order, and rugged individualism. These were the elements of our making, bound together by constitutionalism, republicanism, free-market capitalism, and trust in a creator. Those who reward indolence; increase entitlements; think government has every answer; disrespect the police; would rescind constitutional rights; or sit idly by as we're beguiled away from our proven model toward possible indenture, uncertainty, and chaos are not just foolish; they are a menace!
We can improve our model but must never allow its entropy, natural or otherwise. The elements of our existence, the building blocks of our success, are irreplaceable. Diminish them in any way, and just like Humpty-Dumpty, they may never come together again. Let's rely on things that work, not fairy tales. America's Dream is a reality. Keep it that way, and leave entropy to the physicists!
Al Shane publishes Shaneview.