Thursday, September 11, 2008

John Paul II's Warning to the United States

When John Paul II met President Clinton in 1995, our president was warned that America cannot survive as a nation in its present moral state. If we look at the history of our nation following this warning, we have seen seen our country's moral state decline even further. This is not a statement on morality. To be honest, moral writings is difficult to read and write. Rather I would wish to concentrate on the reality of contemporary American life. The actions of our people do not correspond to our reality. We are materialistic slaves. Instead of living within our means, the people of our state find themselves in more debt every day. We are the only country in the world with a negative savings rate! A recent IMF report suggests that 40% of the U.S. economy is borrowed funds. This means that our present consumption rate is unsustainable. We continue to buy and spend knowing that we do not have the money to pay for this junk, and yet we buy. The popular culture works to enslave Americans so that they spend continually more of their money at shopping malls and the voice of conscience ceases to stop unreasonable activities. George Bernanos wrote that modernity destroys the inner life of man. The marketing techniques of firms and the rise of a corporate sponsored 'popular culture' aims at deep vulnerabilities within humanity and promises solutions that can never satisfy our deepest desires. From an early age, we are bombarded with messages that tell us that the latest consumer product will provide us with more happiness, if only we buy it. There is a word for this: lies. And yet, we are like the foolish man in the tragic comedy who cannot see how the present crises was created by past decisions. And we continue to acquire more stuff...

Some philosophers of history wish to suggest that civilizations are conquered from within before they fall to outside invaders. John Paul II wrote that you can judge the health of a country by the families within it. When the family is in decay, the greater civilization is also in decay. Today we find families struggling more and more to make ends meet. Jobs are less stable and long-term income through labor is increasingly rare. And yet, we continue to spend like tomorrow will not come.

There is no mass solution to our struggles. Rather, we need to work to sustain our families and avoid the material elements in our 'popular culture'. Also, we have to work to keep our educational system from falling even further. We need to teach our children to see all of reality and respond to it with reason. There is always hope and hope does not disappoint. But we who are educators have a difficult task ahead of us.

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