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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Road Ahead

John Oxenham wrote:
To every man there openeth
A way, and ways, and a way.
And the high soul climbs the high way,
And the low soul gropes the low:
And in between, on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth
A high way and a low,
And every man decideth.
The way his soul shall go. 
So, it was interesting to come across two articles pointing out two different directions for our nation. Perhaps it is too late for our nation, as whole, to decide between the two paths. But this is where we are going.

First, the low road. Sultin Knish writes about Japan--and how it has explored our cultural future, and has only found a gaping moral void:
Depressed post-industrial economy, low birth rate, social disintegration and a society obsessed with pop culture and useless tech toys? A country that has embraced pacifism to the extent that it can hardly defend its own borders? A nation where materialism has strangled spirituality leaving no sense of purpose? 
We are Japan. And so is Europe. Or rather Japan is the place we all reach eventually. 
... The thing we have in common with Japan, China and Europe is that we have all moved into a post-modern future while leaving our values behind and our societies have suffered for it. It is a future in which stores have robots on display but couples are hardly getting married, where there are high speed trains and a sense of lingering depression as the people who ride them don't know where they are going, and where the values of the past have been traded for a culture of uncertainty. 
Marriage and children are more extinct in Japan than they are here. They are more extinct in Europe than they are here. And China is still struggling with a bigger social fallout headed its way. 
...The values of the left, that are present in both Japan and America, are a cultural suicide pact.The left pretends to add a spiritual dimension to modernism. It has been peddling that lie for two centuries and it has yet to deliver. In countries where it wielded full control, there was neither modernism nor values. Russia destroyed the economic, technological and spiritual potential of generations of its people. China is trying to use Communist values to avoid turning into another Japan, not realizing that those are little better than the collective obligations with which Japan rushed into the future. 
As America gazes at the ruins of Detroit and the insanity spewed forth by a digital frontier that increasingly looks every bit as eccentric and toxic as anything coming out of Japan, it is all too clear that we are Japan. There is no unique insanity in East, only a common disintegration of values in the East and the West. 
... America is destroying its values on an industrial scale. In a post-industrial nation, the destruction of values has become one of its chief industries. And while there is value in challenging values, in the conflict and clash of ideas, that requires that values go on existing, or there is no longer anything to challenge. And then there is nothing left but emptiness and madness.
 Conversely, there is this piece from Scott Rasmussen at Real Clear Politics discussing how Washington is typically a decade or so behind the curve. And what is it behind on this time?
One big reality check came earlier this year over a very modest trimming of the budget known as the sequester. In D.C., many expected the American people would rise up in revolt when the so-called “cuts” took effect. Instead, no one noticed. Outside of those who work for the government, there was hardly any impact. 
For those in power, that was a terrible glimpse into the reality of how irrelevant much of what they do has become. For most Americans, it was a baby step in the right direction.
That growing political irrelevance was highlighted in a recent Atlantic magazine article by Ron Fournier. As a man immersed in the political class culture, he was concerned with what he saw in a study of the Millennial Generation — young people today are eager to serve their country, but they don’t think politics and government is the way to do that.
 
“They are more likely to be social entrepreneurs, working outside government to create innovative and measurably successful solutions to the nation’s problems,” the article said. 
The notion that problems can be solved outside of Washington is the last thing politicians want to hear. But it’s the path our nation is following. 

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