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Tracing Our Cultural Decline, Part I of III

Within our presumed democratic society, the decline of rational method and the resulting instability is traceable to both political excess and cultural fascination with image making and entertainment in which image is more important than truth.

 We are bombarded mercilessly by images of all kinds, but the significant force is the image bending, the manipulation, distortion, even lies by professional media handlers and politicians who are very skilled and clever. They can turn the world upside down, building a mountain of irrationality– an Orwellian world– in which we are also witnessing a clash of civilizations.
Evils of the 20th century continued and exploded in the 21st with a significant twist: Much of the evil done now is freely chosen and not even characterized as such. I do not contend that government is always a  monster, but neither is government blameless for what now afflicts every country and has brought pain and suffering to its high peak.
It began with ideologies propounded by intellectuals, especially the idea that man/woman should be freed from the shackles of social convention and self-control. Our governments in the West responded by enacting laws that promoted unrestrained behavior and created welfare systems that protect people from their personal decisions– all augmented by the burning trend of anti-Christianity.
Corresponding with this decline is the rise of a new brand of totalitarianism, following in the tracks of fascism and communism.
There was a time when chivalry would not sanction torture of women and children; transgressors were branded as cowards; the despots who fostered it would  eminently deny their actions. Now, torture of the worst kind against innocents is standard practice with some governments, and freely admitted, even boasted about.
Why do we have this rising tide of cruelty and joyous malignity that staggers but does not appease human imagination for inhumanity? Is it the poverty? No, that is the biggest canard! In a time of much less prosperity not so long ago, such conduct was much less widespread; the evil was contained to evil men.
Metaphorically speaking, it may be seen as a legacy of Original Sin. Contemporaneously, it is better explained as far ranging moral cowardice, justified because we know now that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and their own way of life. In the decline of the West, there is no scale of human values as there once was. The winning argument on the international scene is moral equivalence.
What lies ahead?  Are there off-setting forces?

About the author

Dr. John O. Hunter

President Emeritus, Alfred State College, SUNY
President Emeritus, College of Lake County, IL
Founding President, Penn Highlands College,PA
Phi Theta Kappa Distinquished President, WV Northern College
Dean of College, NCCC, Sanborn, NY

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