[N]one of this is our fault. America is not to blame. There are just some bad actors in high profile positions. Really? Our sports heroes are gone, exposed as liars and cheaters. The people we trust with our money turn out to be thieves of a magnitude not known to history. Our president lies us into war, ruins damned near every institution of our government with political folly, and then retires safe from the law in the western sun. You can’t even ask the question “What the hell’s wrong with us?” because the answer requires decades of explanation. An increasing number of Americans wonder if our country will even survive and a scary proportion of those have asked the troubling follow up question as to whether we deserve to survive and have entered our final decline.
Do we deserve to survive?
It’s an intricate question, even if a blunt one. The people of America, taken as a whole, certainly want to survive, but to qualify that want with “deserve” questions whether or not we are entitled to survive, and that inquiry must take into account our national and personal values, and how we live them.
At least some of the outrage that courses through the American psyche today derives from recognition of our shredded values of justice, and whether we can still claim we are a nation of law when our leaders suffer no consequences for their crimes.
The Republicans can feign shock at such suggestions, and the Democrats can attempt to ignore the anger of the people, even as Obama skirts the issue with his remark that “No one is above the law,” which becomes a hollow platitude when divested from the will to prosecute War Crimes committed by the Bush-Cheney regime. At the end of our days as a nation, should this sorry state of affairs be our undoing, history will certainly condemn our lack of will to live the truth of our professed values; the dream that was America will have become a nightmare.
But it may also be worse than that. At the end of our days as individuals, there will only be one judge whom will be deciding our fate as continuing self-conscious, personal beings. Pleas of “It wasn’t my fault” will fall on the ear of infallible Deity; not the bored and callow critics of the failings of a faint-hearted people. The personal cost for the failure to live the values we say we profess in our hearts will be far more dear than the mere degradation of a failed nation.
But look you well to the goal of destiny! Pleasures are indeed suicidal if they succeed in destroying property, which has become the institution of self-maintenance; and self-gratifications have indeed cost a fatal price if they bring about the collapse of marriage, the decadence of family life, and the destruction of the home— man’s supreme evolutionary acquirement and civilization’s only hope of survival.
—The Urantia Book