Pondering What Ails US

There are two recent articles that I’m pondering because they point to something more of us need to attend to: the erosion of our core values.

The first article appeared in the New York Times under the headline “Money’s up, religion and patriotism are down.” It presents the statistics and makes the case that most of us are more interested in personal prosperity than we are in service to “goodness.” While religion can be practiced in solitude, most people identify with a religious community and would regard their observance as a social activity. We invest time and money and we bond with the people who are members of our faith community. So it’s noteworthy when fewer people are moved to be observant and practice their religion with others.

Patriotism is not just flags and Independence Day fireworks. It requires a commitment to a cause larger than one’s self. Military service, altruistic public service, working for good government, voting, not cheating on taxes–all of the civic activities we invest sweat and treasure in–that’s patriotism one can see and measure.

The second article comments on why so many Protestant churches are in decline. The author, a progressive minister, thinks the traditions and practices of many churches no longer call people to be deeply committed to one another or to the core values of their faith.

As I look at the many existential problems America faces (climate change, pollution, political stagnation, extremism, nuclear brinksmanship), all of them are sourced by individual and collective failure to honor core values.

How do I contribute to the unsettling trends these writers perceive?

And you?

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