Friday, April 3, 2009

I filled out an application for a summer seminar program recently. I wasn't sure at the time whether I was going to do it, and I'm still not, but I thought I'd fill out the application and decide later. I found out there was a required 500 word essay. Hmmm...well I decided to write it - answering a question about what I felt was a pressing concern for the country today, why it was important, and how I felt the nation should deal with it. This was the stream of thought that followed. I wrote it very quickly, but I thought it was worthy of posting. Hope ya'll appreciate it:

A pressing current issue that I believe is incredibly significant is the decline in support for the moral decision-making powers of government. More and more, the "establishment" clause included in the constitution is being used as justification to not only keep state and church divided, but to actively discriminate against churches and religious individuals. Separation of church and state, which itself is mainly an idea that was discussed and propagated in letters of Thomas Jefferson, has been interpreted so as to favor the nonreligious few over the religious many. Indeed, the role of government as a body instituted to make laws for the moral welfare of its people is and has been significantly eroded. Except in rare circumstances, the door for legal allowances in areas of moral conduct seems to only swing one way, and the last forty years appear to have seen only the removal of laws prohibiting practices of abortion, sodomy, and gay marriage that society almost universally upheld as destructive less than fifty years ago. Despite this, scientific studies continue to show that religious belief has considerable social, health, and personal benefits. Families composed of a married mother and father are still vastly more stable, productive, and beneficial than those composed of a single parent, unmarried parents, or same-sex parents. Rates of abuse, drug use, crime, and underage pregnancy are significantly higher for children raised in these homes than in traditional nuclear families.

Despite this, government has failed to pull back. Government has, thus far, failed to combat or sincerely address these moral issues in a purposeful way, and the result has been significant harm to society. In contrast, economic "ailments" are treated as number one priority issues. While the economy is indeed very important to the upkeep of a functioning society, is it not possible that the core structures of our families are even more essential in the long run? If the current trends continue, how can we expect responsible leadership to spring from younger generations? It seems difficult to imagine the United States continuing to lead the world forward when the citizens in charge are only making it easier for their children to slide back to the very problems that we have proposed to help the rest of the world overcome.

Government can bring about change. Leaders can pull back. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had the task of readying the country for war at a time when the majority of its members were strongly resistant to the idea. This kind of moral leadership can and must be found today. The virtue of the citizenry was what counted most in the minds of the writers of the Federalist Papers. The same is still true for this nation. By rolling back laws that have made more allowances with new ones that will allow only few, the virtue of the citizenry can be positively influenced by the government. The government has a responsibility to the people to encourage decency, responsibility, and morality. It is time to begin acting on it.