Society is a collective of people, united by geography, religion, culture, race, ideology, and/or common purpose. Tribes, monarchies, parties, caliphates, democracies, republics; these are all examples of collective organizing that man has tried over the millennia to manage and build the ideal society. Govt, culture, people, & society are sometimes synonymous in this analysis. Human Government is an attempt to organize humanity into a functional, workable system of living & interdependence. The history of man is a record of the collective experiments that we have tried in order to build the ideal society.
There are many factors in outlining an ideal society. They interweave & correlate to each other so much it is difficult to look at one factor without seeing the others modifying & qualifying the whole. To understand the whole, it is good to examine the details. And to grasp the details, it is necessary to see the whole. This is an examination of one detail of an ideal society: Morality.
Morality & an agreed set of values is an essential part of any society. The decline of morals & increase of corruption has historically been one of the major indicators of the fall of a culture. So while it is clear that morality is important, the question of 'what' morality, its basis, & definitions become imperative.
"Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society." ~George Washington
Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants." –William Penn
This is not a call for a specific religion, but a general observation that morality in a people is essential to a successful society. Morality, to function, MUST have a logical basis, or it is just opinions. You cannot teach morality without some kind of appeal to a higher power. Without a basis in religious values, morality becomes relative.. subject to the whims of the moment.
In the American experiment, Christianity & the bible were the main drivers of morality in this culture. As those influences have waned, the decline of morality & the increase of corruption have taken place. It is impossible NOT to see the correlation. As morality has declined, crime, corruption, & decadence has increased. Morality & social values used to be taught.. sometimes right from the bible, to the general public. People were taught morals, & the basis for the morals from an early age.
"The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other." ~Alexis de Tocqueville
“We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.” - James Madison
In the last 50-80 yrs, there has been a steady decline in moral values in America. Moral relativism has become the new basis for morality. The 'feeling' of the moment is the foundation of morality, which is no foundation at all. Expediency & convenience are bigger factors in questions of morality, rather than absolutes. This restructuring of morality has brought increases in negative elements for society:
3. Abortion & unmarried childbirths
4. Public & corporate corruption & graft
5. Lies & deceptions increasing
6. Substance abuse
7. Suicides & increases in mental health disorders
8. Dependency over work ethic
The changes in cultural icons are also indicators of the changes in values. Science, engineering, & industry were highly esteemed by the culture as recently as the 50s & 60s. Kids got microscopes or encyclopedias for gifts. But we have seen a slow transition to other values. Sports & celebrity worship are bigger influences, & show a change of cultural values. Wealth & fame are valued more than honest work or bettering mankind. Scheming & grifting are accepted & even elevated as virtues.
"As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: You liberate a city by destroying it. Words are used to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests." ~Gore Vidal
What is the solution? You cannot 'legislate' morality. Something this crucial to human culture must have a basis from within. Spiritual, religious values must come from within, they cannot be mandated. It is a cultural dilemma that only the people can fix. Law can be mandated. Crime can be punished. Regulations can be made that are fair & promote industry, but truth & morality of a people can only come from the people. So unless there is a spiritual, moral awakening, a nation in decline only declines further. Without a moral anchor, society is tossed about in a sea of relativity until it shipwrecks on the rocks of crime & corruption.
“I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such: because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well-administred; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administred for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” ~Benjamin Franklin