Sunday, August 12, 2012

Losing the foundation of society

"In those days, there was no king in Israel; everyone did as they saw fit."  Judges 17:6 (and other verses)

I've come to realize this statement, repeated often in the book of Judges, doesn't just mean "this was the time before Saul was made Israel's first king."  It also refers to the rejection of God's authority.  Over the generations, Israel became steadily more ignorant of the instructions God gave to Moses, and when they did recall, they refused to comply.  Each person decided they were the measure of their own boundaries.

The result, of course, was anarchy.

We can see the same effects of rampant self-centeredness today.  It's difficult to establish trust in a society where everyone is inclined to "win at all costs," with no consideration of the impact their actions have on others:
Cheating in sports is but a single facet of the cheating that’s rampant today in everything from education to finance to government. The financial meltdown of 2008 was a bonfire of bad behavior on all sides. Fannie Mae is built on the lie that every American is capable of paying a mortgage. Mortgage lenders steered victims into loans they could never pay. But the victims were not all innocent. Many lied on loan applications, claiming incomes they never had.
President Obama wrote a biography based on fabrications, which he admitted to this year. The oddest of those lies concern the “girlfriend” he now says was a “compression” of real people. Even small lies reveal character.
A new and growing form of cheating is taking place in our high schools. During tests, particularly SATs, kids are popping speed and prescription drugs meant to treat attention-deficit disorder. Anything for an edge.
Make no mistake, our Age of Cheats is a sign of rot. The U.S. government fudges its numbers (by way of the monetary printing press). Our politicians call reduced growth rates “cuts in spending.” Our biggest banks take obscene risks and cry poor when they don’t work out. But we’ve risen above moral rot before. The U.S. has transcended slavery and civil war, as well as periods of rampant corruption and paralyzing resentment.
Let’s hope the Age of Cheats is drawing to a close, because a full recovery won’t be possible until it’s over.

Without trust and integrity, it's impossible to maintain large institutions, whether corporate, government or private.  As more and more people realize just how stacked the system is against them, they'll withdraw from it, to the extent they can.  Smaller networks of trust will be built, on a scale that is accountable and sustainable.

The wise are building those foundations now.

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