The loss of our 'moral compass'



Letter No. 323 | February 13, 2006

Webmaster's note: Paul Ceria, a 1959 graduate of Nanty Glo-Vintondale High School, former GI, Vietnam War veteran, and now a high school science teacher in Fayetteville, North Carolina, recently sent the following letter to the Nanty Glo Email Forum. It got more responses than anything seen on the Forum for a long time, and I asked Paul for permission to archive it here in the permanent Nanty Glo Home Page letters forum. —Jon Kennedy

Today I read an article on-line concerning the sentencing of a 19-year-old Milwaukee teen for second-degree wreckless homocide. He was sentenced for his participation in the mob beating of a schizophrenic Vietnam Vet. The man was clutching his Bible at the time of his beating. He expired four days later. The victim was near his home, a facility that assists people with disablities.

As a result of this act, a sentence of 10 years in prison was imposed along with eight years of extended supervision and a $7,000 fine for funeral costs. As a practictioner of a Christian faith, I do believe in forgiveness, but I also believe in justice. The attacker will be able to leave prison at the age of 29 (provided he is not paroled) and at 37 will be able to continue his life without any restrictions. On the other hand, the victim, a disabled Vietnam vet, has been sentence to a grave forever and there is no parole. Two crimes have been committed here. A man has been murdered and another is the travesty of the sentence of the court. Justice? I think not.

As I read the article, I could not help but wonder what has happened to the moral direction of our country since the days of my youth. What has happened to our moral compass?

Our newspapers are filled on a daily basis with incidents of crime and most are the acts of violent and disrespectful youths who are involved in rebellion against legitimate and time-tested authority. As Judy [Rose] said earlier this week [on the email Forum], drugs are much at the root of this activity. I agree, but I contend there are three other things of a deeper nature contributing to this moral decay. The first is the lack of responsiblilty in parenting, the second is the liberalizing of our society to the point that rights are more important than responsibility, and the third is secularism tied to materialism.

What was once considered good as a value is now considered bad by many of our youths. Honest labor is to be avoided and it is always someone else's fault. The governement is not doing enough for me. School shouldn't be work, it must be fun. Sex without rules is a right. Moral misconduct is simply having fun. Those who defend our country are draft for me! The Hollywood crew now tells us that the best movie of the year is one with the plot of an unfaithful husband moving to a homosexual life style. What swill! Rights! Rights! Rights! is the cry of many on the left, but whatever happened to repsonsibility? To this day, I still remember the words of my beloved Coach [Joseph] Gates who said, "With every right in a democracy goes a responsiblity." Boy, was he right!

"Don't mention God!" is the outcry of those on the left who want to run our schools. You might offend the Wiccas or some cult exercising their right to religious practice. What happened to the Nanty Glo High School that sent us on the way to our pastors on Wednesdays mornings for moral guidance? Was it time wasted? Did the recitation of a daily Bible verse in homeroom destroy the First Ammendment? And by the way, I don't remember any youths of that time beating up mentally ill vets or taking drugs.

"Give them a break, they are only young!" is the guidleline of those bleeding hearts who cry out against restictions on the young. Today, it seems like it is a right and a must for young people to be given unrestricted access to all sorts of adult priviliges and entertainment. What happened to rules?

"But everyone else has one!" is what the teen who insists he must have a car says as soon as he turns sixteen. Hey, I did just fine walking. Why are we so materialistic with our youth? I did just fine with a small allowance, and the sometimes use of my father's car, and none of the big ticket items kids now feel they absolutely must have.

"They were only being children!" says the parent of the child who disrupts a classroom. What happened to the parents who acted harshly on the heels of the punishment of an unruly teen by school authority? Now all we see are lawyers and threats in the face of our teachers and principals. Rights, rights, and more rights! What ever happened to responsibility?

Where is our moral compass? As we became more "liberal" toward the conduct of our children, our society threw God out of our classrooms and even many of our homes. We reduced the importance of rules to the point that they now are only followed if they are convenient. Frankly, when we threw God out of our schools, the "Other Guy" came in the back door.

Today, we see children raising themself without rules and in my honest opinion, they are not doing a very good job. It is time to look through the compass lens again as a nation and move to a new moral direction since history tells us that all great societies have fallen from decay from within. Somehow, I can hear the voice of that Viet Vet as he cries out for a new azimuth. I, for one, think that direction is not to the left and more "rights", but to the right and more "responsibility"...and it has got to start in the home.

If I am sinking to a new low with an irrelevant arguement, so be it. I am a conservative.

Paul Ceria
Fayetteville, North Carolina



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