On this thirteenth anniversary of 9/11, I would like to present a rather sober topic to you, the reader: the condition of America’s soul. Such a day of national unity and remembrance is a fitting date for this topic, at least in my mind. I shall being my discussion with a brief history lesson.
The inward condition of man affects the outward political order. This was the understanding of the ancient political philosophers; Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, etc. All of these ancient thinkers had a distinct focus on the condition of the soul. In order to have a good society, people had to be taught to be virtuous.
However, there came a point when there was no longer a focus on the soul. Thinkers in the modern era, beginning with Machiavelli, focused on institutions to mold humans into a certain political order. Rather than focusing on creating virtuous people, structure of governments was the goal of modern thinkers; Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Alexander Hamilton, etc.
Because of the shift in emphasis in political philosophy, we are now witnessing a breakdown of the collective soul in America. This is an even worse problem than any policy issue or economic crisis. For if the soul of a nation is broken, how can it survive? It will eventually be reduced to nothing, a people consumed by material passions, and ignorant of the important things in life. The attitudes that made a nation great will have been stripped away, removing possibility for restoration.
People will descend into licentiousness, and disregard the rule of law. Fellow man will be looked at as sub-human. Tragedies will mean little or nothing as the people continue on in their petty indulgences.
That is the state of America in 2014. On this 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon, I ask how did we get to this point? How could I even say something like this? Thirteen years ago, Americans united across the nation in mourning. It was a moment of defeat, but one in which our American value for life was greatly demonstrated.
Thirteen years later, where is this love of life? Where is our traditional sense of its value? It seems to be no longer with us. The soul of America has been poisoned where we slumber through humanitarian crises, and scream with unbridled passion when our internet is not working. I point to the perpetrated genocide happening in the Middle East, the genocide happening within our own nation, and Americans’ reaction, or lack thereof, as evidence of my thoughts.
I have, in some length, discussed the issues with the new Islamic State. The atrocities and bloodthirsty rages can no longer be ignored by any decent human being. This should be very disturbing to anyone with a rational mind. Some have openly condemned what is being done by savage, bloodthirsty lunatics, but what about the other people in this country who are not seeing, or refusing to see it? Americans are seemingly in denial of what may soon be the greatest genocide of the 21st century if not stopped. The actual arguments for intervening militarily are an entirely different subject; here, just the reaction of Americans to the events are what must be understood first.
Why, still, is the genocide perpetrated by the Islamic State still relatively ignored by Americans? This is not to say that there is no one sounding the alarm; quite the contrary. In recent weeks, more people have come to the realization that they can hide in their bubbles no longer without acknowledging the atrocious nature of the Islamic State.
Even worse than what the Islamic State is doing, is that which has been openly practiced, normalized, and endorsed in American society: the termination of a life during pregnancy (murder, for those of you who think it’s anything less than that).
Now 41 years after the decision in Roe v. Wade, abortion is a normal part of American society. The fact that such has been stated is in and of itself a tragedy, reflective of the sickness of the American soul. Why would a nation, why even should, a nation be able to thrive if it is willing to, and often condoning, the indiscriminate slaughter of its future population?
But Americans at large are sleeping in a state of ignorant bliss, unaware, and not even desiring to know about that which really matters. Butchery committed by people against other people matters. This should not be a controversial statement, nor should it even have to be said. But the condition of America’s soul at large is so sickly that we cannot even bring ourselves to condemn the evils committed on our fellow man.
The state of the soul is not something discussed anymore in contemporary politics, and the condition of the country at large suffers because of it. Can a nation survive if its sense of human decency has been corrupted by a spirit of materialism and indifference? I beg to say that it cannot.
America needs to collectively ask herself this question: What happened to our soul?
We were founded as a nation that respected the human dignity of all peoples, yet we now love our stuff more than our fellow man. We called evil for what it is, condemned another nation that committed genocide against an entire race, but we cannot even bring ourselves to call the Islamic State evil for doing almost the exact same thing?
Where is the soul? It has been forgotten, abandoned by the education system, the family, even the church in some cases. A healing of the soul must happen for American to be restored to greatness. An argument to the contrary dismisses the effect of the soul on politics. If we do not have people who can point out evil, how can we be expected to elect good men and women to office to legislate? How are we to recognize evil within our own nation when we refuse to accept the idea that evil even exists?
Where is your soul America? There are atrocities and mass murder being committed all across the globe, and within your own hometowns, but you have not condemned it. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it is one of human decency, and something that every person should be able to agree upon. Yet, we do not, because the soul of our nation is sick, and slowly dying.
Thirteen years ago, life was never more valuable. No matter what one’s faith was, or was not, we all could recognize the value in our fellow man. Now, that seems to be the case no longer. If America was hit by another terrorist attack on the same level, I do not know if our reaction would be the same as it was on that day in September, 2001. I would say, though, that no unity or love of life would come of it. Could it be a wake up call? I think it may be, but the healing of our collective soul must come as well.