“What happened to my America?” a friend recently asked.
The respect for the free enterprise system, an admirable work ethic, respect for authority, reverence for things spiritual, individual accountability and parental responsibility are but a few of formerly accepted virtues that have been dramatically eroded. Following are some factors that had made America a nation in transition.
We have become a more pluralistic society not just racially, but politically, socially, spiritually and sexually.
Long ago, a pluralistic society was defined as a society in search for a soul. The long-standing soul of America has and is changing. Whatever a person thinks of the change the old soul is gone and will not be back.
Accompanying this cultural change the call for tolerance is mandated. Most persons would agree tolerance is a good thing.
However, how it is defined is significant.
Tolerance has long been defined as respect for the opinion of others. It has traditionally been expressed as “I respect your opinion and defend your right to it, but I disagree with it.”
That is now called negative tolerance and those espousing it are often objects of derision.
Positive tolerance is expressed as any one opinion is as good as another.
In this world there are no absolutes.
Everything is relevant.
College professors say many students arrive on campus today espousing positive tolerance.
Sounds good, but is it? If it is we owe apologies to Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Osama bin Laden, Pol Pot, Timothy McVeigh and the Tsarnaev brothers of Boston.
The extreme observed by college professors is some students now look favorably on Nazism and even slavery.
Why not, if positive tolerance prevails?
For decades, the soul of America on which what is considered negative tolerance was based was the stable pillars of the Constitution and the Bible. Those two norms are now discredited. They have been replaced by such sources as entertainment icons, music moguls, sitcom characters, sports figures and advocacy groups.
What they say, wear and do becomes the norm for many. Many of those would not know the source of “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union ...”
Neither do they know the basic laws brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. Moses! Who is Moses?
In general, a generation has emerged in which the majority is ignorant of the values that made America a prosperous and basically moral nation admired by the world.
They constitute a large segment of our society searching for a soul.
One of the darkest eras in the life of ancient Israel is described as every man doing that which was right in his own eyes.
This has even dramatically impacted the houses of worship. Because of the value placed on tolerance by the world, many pulpits now reflect the values of the culture rather than the Bible. This has resulted in pews filled with inspired individuals who are clueless, uninformed of doctrine and totally unable to answer the world’s questions and defend their own faith.
Efforts by civic clubs, schools, synagogues and churches are needed in efforts to save the nation’s soul.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.