'America's moral decay'

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Guns have been widely available in America since long before we were a country, and yet the random, malicious mass killing of innocent victims in any venue, and especially in schools, is a fairly recent phenomenon.

Why then have these shootings started happening with more and more frequency and violence? Ultimately, what makes a civil society possible is a shared moral foundation that guides people to behave in a civilly acceptable fashion.

Specifically related to schools, the Department of Education, formed in 1980 under President Carter, steadily removed all mention of God, religion, morality, ethics and common beliefs. Whether one believes in God or not, the Judeo-Christian foundation our country was built on provided the guardrails that channeled people to behave ethically. Belief in a higher purpose, with an afterlife that rewards good behavior and punishes evil is a powerful incentive to control our worst instincts.

Earlier generations knew right from wrong, and though we often failed to live up to our best ideals, we at least agreed on what they were.

Our schools and many parents no longer teach these basic lessons. Society seems to glorify behavior that was universally condemned just a generation ago. Super violent movies, TV and video games desensitize children, eviscerating the inherent, natural revulsion we’re born with to hurting another human being. Sordid, decadent behavior has made sexual harassment ubiquitous and eroded respect for women.

I was encouraged by the recent article in The Photo News explaining how Monroe-Woodbury Schools have felt the void of “ethics education” in our schools, and are planning to have a seminar next fall on bullying, opioid addiction, school violence, suicide, etc. This is a good start, but unless the taboos preventing discussing God and Judeo-Christian values in the public square are waived, I fear modern psycho-babel and moral relativism will not be adequate to the task.

While a revival of moral clarity is the long term solution, who knows when or if it will happen.

Meanwhile, we must live in the here and now. Gun control will not control the bad behavior of the sociopaths that are killing our precious children. Several things must be done immediately:

• We can and we must provide armed and fully adequate security at every school in this country.

• We must require our FBI and law enforcement to be less “politically correct” and use sensible profiling and surveillance of likely violent actors including terrorists and mentally unstable individuals. Many mistakes have been made that could have stopped several of these events from happening.

• We have to rethink how we address mental illness in this country. We must be willing to use constitutionally acceptable methods to keep the violence-prone among us from causing major harm. This will require preventing them from owning or accessing firearms or any other powerful weapons, and in extreme cases, institutionalizing them.

• Some enhancements to gun background checks should be debated and some improvements can be made. The focus must be on preventing the criminal and violent elements in our society from obtaining weapons; not on preventing the law abiding from exercising the God-given right of defending themselves and their families.

Addressing America’s moral decay will not be easy nor quick, but it can be done. For now though, let’s agree to do what will protect the most vulnerable among us – our children.

David P. McCarty

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