As Old Slick himself might say, “Define morality.”Everyone on the planet has his or her own set of values, moral code, or definition of what is right and wrong. How does each person develop this “rudder” to steer their personal conduct? As for me and, almost without exception, all my acquaintances, my standards for behavior are a function of Judeo-Christian teachings. Beginning with the Ten Commandments, and supplemented with numerous other guideposts for life, our American culture has historically reflected these principles. Despite our president's claims, America is still largely a Christian nation.
The face and personality of America began to change dramatically in the 1960s. The Immigration Reform Act of 1965 opened our borders to a flood of immigrants quite different from the stereotype of earlier Americans. In addition to this new onslaught of foreign culture, attitudes of all Americans were beginning to change with the Hippie movement and the unpopular Vietnam War.
It was about this time that Hollywood and the elitist media began to have a more powerful role in our lives. Grounded in the fundamental rights granted by the First Amendment, content on television and on the big screen became more permissive in what was allowed to be shown. Time magazine in the 1970s would have been considered pornographic a generation earlier. This devolution to lower moral standards led to a change in the way individuals viewed personal responsibility. Many adopted an attitude of no responsibility to anything other than oneself. In recent decades we seem to have refined this narcissistic and self-serving attitude to a fine science.
In a recent USA Weekend supplement to the Democrat, an article in the “Who’s News” section made me nauseous. Listed in the “Who’s Hot in Hollywood” column, Joel Kinnaman was named as the super cool dude of the hour. Being ever so humble, he stated, “I think I’ve earned some of my dad’s courage and lust for adventure.” As it turns out, his dad was a Vietnam deserter who fled to Laos and eventually made it to Sweden where his son was born with dual citizenship, U.S. and Swedish. To me, his dad’s “courage” could best be described as being a cowardly traitor during time of war. He should have been extradited to the U.S., court martialed, stripped of citizenship, and executed by firing squad.
There was a time in our history when Hollywood pitched in to support our national interests. During World War II, countless stars of the silver screen volunteered and served with distinction — the list is lengthy. Why am I having such a hard time coming up with any TV or movie stars serving in Vietnam? Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue and Hill Street Blues) is the only one I can recall.
Americans, blessed with enormous rights and freedoms through sacrifice of others, have generously granted these liberties to others, irrespective of their entitlement. As a result, there are many in our midst who use these liberties to destroy us. We Americans must quickly come to the realization that much of the world does not share our convictions. As we continue to lose our own moral code, the contempt of our amoral behavior by other cultures will remain assured. Can we file Chapter 11 for immorality and start all over?
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy Commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.