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updated: 1/17/2014 1:17 PM

No small task to fix our broken culture

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No small task to fix our broken culture

We have all heard "the only thing that is constant in today's world is change." Certainly technology keeps changing by its own dynamic and in response to market incentives.

But there are other constants, not the least of which is our constant resistance to meaningful learning. ("You do not understand what I am saying because you cannot bear to hear it.") From Confucius and Socrates to Jefferson, Schweitzer, Veblen, Jung, Vance Packard, Ralph Nader and John W. Gardner ("Excellence," "Self-Renewal," "Recovery of confidence") have become legacies of hope and practical wisdom, too often going in one ear and out the other.

False prophets, on the other hand, have their way today in part because they know how to be entertaining while pulling the wool over your eyes; saxophone presidents and reruns of mind-warping sitcoms. Economist John Maynard Keynes wrote, "The ideas of political philosophers both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else."

Expand that to include myths, secular and otherwise, and seductive ideas of propagandists in general and you begin to see how America's sick culture got this way, bereft of common sense, decency, efficiency and human sentience.

Causes and symptoms include anything-goes media, irresponsible government, self-serving financial sector, stagnant economy, obscene disparities of wealth and social power, skewed product mix, $3 trillion sick-care industry, and addictions of choice -- "devices," sports, drugs, sex, ubiquitous gambling from stock markets to state lotteries and casinos.

Jefferson said no nation can be both ignorant and free. After decades of pretense and denial, citizens are beginning to emerge from innocence. It's time now for the hard thinking and personal effort needed to repair our broken culture.

Robert L. Darcy


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