Culture is King

Beginning in the 1960s, society began to give up parental rights to the creators of mass popular culture.  Movies, TV, video games, and of course music are now the surrogate parents of our young.  During the same period of our history, large numbers of Americans began to abandon traditional Judeo-Christian sexual morality.  The results are now obvious: an increase in premarital sex, out-of-wedlock births, divorce, and single-parent families.  The one thing that didn't increase was the percentage of Americans who were religiously affiliated and who regularly attended religious services.  The high point of religious practice in America was reached in the 1950s and since then has been in steady decline, but most alarming is the fact that as a percentage of our national population today, young adults make up the largest group of those who call themselves non-religious.

These cultural trends led to a steady increase in all types of violence.  Mass murders are getting the big headlines, but there are many types of violence that, taken as an aggregate, are exponentially greater.  Violent crime quadrupled between 1960 and 1991.  The rate of suicide has increased 33% between 1999 and 2017.  Since 1973, in America, there have been over sixty-one million abortions, and human-trafficking is increasing in every state.

Should we now be surprised that the proportion of young people committing mass murder is increasing?  That the majority of these young people come from broken homes and 85% of the shooters are religiously non-practicing?

The two main ways our present national culture has departed from our past is its increasing disrespect for human life and its acceptance of a low level of sexual morality.  If the history of the world proves anything about the future stability of a civilization, it is the fact that its success must be rooted in families where there are a high degree of morality and discipline.  Without these, the peace and order of a society soon begin to unravel.  History provides many examples of what I call "cultural self-genocide."  The process is always the same: honored values and beliefs that had defined a civilization for centuries suddenly become the topic of social and cultural ridicule.  Other values or beliefs are accepted with little scrutiny and even turned into a culturally fashionable campaign.

Herodotus said thousands of years ago, "Culture is King."  Morals, norms, and religious beliefs are the true foundation of a civilization, and if that template is broken, violence and chaos will soon follow.

William D. Howard is a freelance writer who had a long career as an educator.  He holds degrees in philosophy and history and has traveled widely in over 40 countries.

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