America’s Moral Decay

Psychologists, sociologists, and others nowadays continually describe for us what is in the minds of Americans, why we behave as we do. Born in 1938, just prior to the United States involvement in World War Two, I am a child of what some call “The Greatest Generation”. As such, my interpretation of things is unyielding. My mind is made up.

The time during which I spent my formative years–late 40s and the 1950s–was much different than today. So different, most of my books ( and articles are written about the period 1950 to 1960 because I believe it was a better time altogether. There was civility. Every time in the past has its flaws, but degradation of morality has, in my opinion, accelerated over the past 50-60 years.

Before continuing, let me give you a definition or two, so you may understand what is written below:

Prude, n. a person who is excessively modest or proper in speech or dress.

Modest, adj. 1. Having a moderate or humble estimate of oneself; 2. Reserved or reticent; 3. Showing regard for the decencies of behavior or dress.

Decent, adj. 1. Conforming to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, etc.; 2. Respectable or worthy; 3. Not obscene.


While we cannot go back in time, perhaps a review of things that have promoted or fostered the kind of society we have become is in order. All too often, in this modern, electronic age, it is a simple matter to point fingers and set blame. In fact, it is a national pastime to find blame, why someone was motivated to do this or that crime, or err.

Looking at the 50s, for example, standards of behavior were much different that today. It was not necessary to make an effort to assure whatever entertainment you sought was not laced with profanity. The ‘F’ bomb, just to pick one expletive, was almost never uttered under any circumstances. Out of wedlock pregnancies were a blight on the future of both guilty parties. In fact, most young couples–and, certainly the female, if the male could not or would not come forward–all but vanished from the community, giving birth well away from friends and neighbors, all but excommunicated.

Simple words like ‘sex’, ‘menstrual cycle’, and just about any word or phrase involving human reproduction, were taboo in common conversation. Clothing was relatively modest as well, in high schools, boys wore jeans or slacks, and, usually, a collared shirt. Girls were not allowed jeans or slacks, so, they wore skirts, blouses and sweaters. Make no mistake, young women knew how to wear their tops and tight skirts to the best advantage of their physical features. Nowadays, explicit scenes are commonplace in motion pictures and on television. Indeed, the display of revealing lingerie is a television spectacle. Modesty does not exist.

My recollection of a challenge in third grade was memorization of Psalm 23, and our history books even identified Jesus as the Messiah. Of course, in today’s society, such an assignment would not be allowed. In my youth, normal school activities, included: Daily Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the National Anthem (or America), learning Christmas Carols for performance in a Christmas event of some kind, and special activities for birthdays of Lincoln and Washington. There were Court House speeches on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Fourth of July (usually preceded by a parade), as well as Labor Day.

How about religion in all this mix? “In 1990, 20.4% of the population attended an Orthodox Christian church on any given weekend. In 2000, that percentage dropped to 18.7% and to 17.7% by 2004. …while church attendance numbers have stayed about the same from 1990 to 2004, the U.S. population has grown by 18.1%—more than 48 million people. So even though the number of attendees is the same, our churches are not keeping up with population growth”. [] Apparently, there are fewer practicing Christians, and religion on the whole is on the decline, a terrific strain on propriety.

A popular finger-pointing to lay blame is the “I want it, and, I want it now” philosophy. Two or three decades ago, parents could not expect to earn their way to home ownership in the first 10 or 15 years of family life. Adults knew something about “paying their dues” in a professional life or working environment. Nowadays, young marrieds hope for a new home within the first five years or wonder what they have done wrong. Perhaps it is our fault from bringing our children up by providing all those material things we did not have.

Television must shoulder much of the blame for what youngsters, young adults, and those under age 40 believe. Action thrillers dilute the true facts of injury and death itself. Our young have no understanding of hard work over a period of years, real pain and suffering. Too, there is a philosophy of “fairness” making its way through our population, when, in fact, life itself is not fair. ‘Robbing from Peter to pay Paul’ i.e., to steal money from one person to give it to another person, is seen as preordained.

So, is our declining lot in life the result of instant communications, instant gratification, lack of religious upbringing, poor training as children, inability to recognize the fruits of hard work over time? I believe it is a collection of all of these things, coupled with the stresses created by materialistic desires and the mindset against achieving later rather than sooner. Decency, as a moral measure is all but non-existent.

Adding more mice to the box creates chaos and destructive behavior. Benjamin Franklin created a list of 13 virtues he worked on each day. We would do well to emulate his example.Image