Monday, March 30, 2015

Losing Faith

To the loved ones of the victims of 9/11, to them who are here in this room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness. --Richard Clarke

According to a 2012 Pew Research Center Study, "A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%). And young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives." Now why do you suppose the children of the 1980s and 1990s would be less religious, and less likely to join local social organizations like Rotary Clubs, less likely to describe themselves as Democrats or Republicans, etc.?

Let's review what has happened since Ronald Reagan won the 1980 presidential election. We have had (1) a dramatic politicalization of religious faiths with socially conservative faiths by their leadership, (2) American governments supporting repressive regimes with disastrous results over and over again, (3) the impeachment of a president for lying about an extramarital affair, (4) the largest intelligence failure since 1941, (5) losing track of the guy who lead the first large-scale successful attack on American soil since 1812 to fight a war on false pretenses, (6) an ineffective torture regime condoned by high officials, (7) child molestation scandals in the Catholic Church and Penn State that was covered up for decades, (8) colleges cannot keep students from committing sexual violence against each other and don't want to look into it, (10) the largest financial collapse since 1929 based on self-deceptive fraud, (11) a whole branch of the federal government that cannot function without super majorities for one party or another (Congress), (12) another branch of the federal government that has become wholly politicized (the Judiciary), (13) greed has consumed sports --professional and amateur-- to exploit players at the expense of their health and well-being, (14) fraudsters have increasingly turned to religious people to run their scams to live lives of luxury on the backs of the faithful, (15) the police have become militarized, (16) while the military have become disconnected from society, props to cheer for at sporting events but otherwise ignored, (17) privacy has been eroded with nothing to show for it. And none of these failings have been called to account at the top. All the while social mobility has all but dried up, and economic inequality has exploded.

Richard Clarke was on to something. But it is not just the intelligence community that has failed us in the last 35 years. Governmental leaders at all levels have failed us. Financial leaders have failed us. Higher education has failed us. Organized religions have failed us.

So-called millennials are rightly increasingly skeptical of all institutions that hold power in society. But the solution is not to become even more cynical and disengaged. Instead, children of the 1980s and 1990s need to organize to demand accountability and change from every institution that has betrayed the public trust. Apathy merely consigns us further down this road. For the good of the Republic, energy needs to be channeled into remaking these institution through laws, rules, and regulations that reign in human frailties that have evidentially overwhelmed them. Clearly, relying on the good intentions of the people in power has lead to disastrous results.

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