A few weeks back, a Pew Research Center study was released that sent Jewish-American leaders on a binge of pious statements and all too late words of concern. The study findings reveal Jews are leaving their religion in big numbers, running away to be exact, losing their faith in God, and simply heading toward complete assimilation and disappearance.
This transformation began years ago. It’s the velocity of the change that seems most upsetting — but it’s not just the Jews who are abandoning their roots, rites, and religions. This is a society-wide issue that has long-term impacts. Churches are closing, synagogues are closing, some religious leaders have announced their intentions to cease politicking, and attendance at things religious and civic is on the decline.
Nearly 200 years ago the Frenchman political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville opined that the best of America was its ability to create community through organizations. He marveled at the depth and breadth of religiosity and of organizations. Were he to somehow magically become reincarnated and revisit the “new world” now, he would see a nation very much unorganized. Fraternal and civic associations are on the way to joining the dodo.
It was in places such as masonic halls, religious organizations, veterans groups, and the neighborhood church ushers’ societies that we learned how to participate, how to organize ourselves in functioning social units, how to resolve conflicts and create shared aims.
It was in those settings that we built a uniquely American civic culture with respect for differences because we were aware after all that we’re one nation, under God. Not so anymore.
Meeting places have changed, relationships are virtual. Tangible common ground appears rare. And the cost of conflict is high. How so? Look at our national government, our local governments. Only strong, thoughtful leaders seeking common bonds can change the hyper-partisanship that is often only a screen hiding the desires of a bunch of children in adult clothes called our leaders, who seek attention. And they will bawl their eyes out and make as much noise as they need to until they get their fair share of applause.
It’s our values, folks. Running for the exits to deny a higher moral order that demands we help more and punish less, seek reconciliation first and conflict last. If we no longer believe that the phrase “In God We Trust” is the basic American truth, then what we now see in the Pew study might become the future for all of us no matter our religious affiliation or lack thereof.
With no common moral bounds we can shut the government down, use our government as a tool to hurt not to help, and deny our unique ability as a nation to intervene when human dignity is despoiled before our eyes. Morality is not virtual.
Hank Sheinkopf is an early creator of integrated strategic campaigns using all forms of media and has won national and international awards for his radio and TV productions. He is a veteran of more than 700 political, public policy, and public relations campaigns around the world. Read more reports from Hank Sheinkopf — Click Here Now.
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