SANTA CLAUSE?

“Honesty is the best policy”
“Good Girls and Boys Wait ‘Til They’re Married”
“Those elected to high office… honor and protect the public trust given them”
“God is good!”
“If you’re real good, Santa Claus will come to see you on Christmas Eve.”

Where have all our old and proven values gone? In these new, modern times, have we made them all obsolete? Have we dismissed them in the name of “progress?” Are we just too busy for all that old stuff? I hope not!

Once upon a time it was not only disgraceful to be the one convicted of a crime, but shame was borne by the family and relatives as well. Those found guilty were branded as “convicts” for the rest of their lives. In short, “crime didn’t pay.” Today, one can commit a crime, plea bargain for a lesser charge, and get out of prison after serving only a third (or less) of the original sentence. If the offense is heinous enough, the criminal gets an agent who cuts lucrative royalty deals for rights to a novel and a movie that generate millions for them both! In the bargain, there are talk show appearances and tabloid features and standup comics know their names as such people become celebrities. Meanwhile, the victim’s family members suffer not only their personal loss, but the humiliation of seeing their tragedy reap benefits to the criminal.

No wonder average citizens are becoming increasingly more cynical about this general state of affairs. A sense of helplessness often sets in leading the individual to submit to the growing, universal attitude… “Since I’m powerless to do anything about things as they are, I’ll ignore them.” Further deterioration of the human spirit leads to the even more dangerous attitude of “Since everybody else is doing what they please, I’ll try to get away with whatever I can!” Doing things because they are right loses out to doing things that are expedient. Too many in our new generations are growing up with such negative role models to copy, while the “good guys” become harder for them to find all the time.

If this trend is allowed to continue unabated, the future for our grandchildren and generations beyond them looks awfully bleak. Those of us who care about the world we leave behind must swing the pendulum in the opposite direction. Clearly, none of us professes to be innocent of these and other shortcomings… certainly not this writer.

Perhaps we should begin with a bit of self-evaluation of our own beliefs and how we put them into daily practice. Do we have a philosophy for our lives based on recognizable tenets? If we profess to have such beliefs, how true to them are we? Conflicts between the right action and that which is most expedient (even most profitable) are present everyday. It’s past time for well meaning individuals to let themselves be seen and heard in the name of honesty and decency. It’s time for us to be more determined than ever to set the example we want our children to follow so that our grandchildren will inherit a world worth living in.

As the expression goes, “…If not me, who? …If not now, when?” Certainly our political leaders have to help set the example, but if all the governments at all the levels exerted their united energies, the result would be limited at best. Clearly, religious institutions must play even more visible roles in an all out crusade to arouse and sustain our focus on these moral and ethical issues. And, to some extent, the broad spectrum of civic organizations can have an impact when they choose to do so. But, as important as all these organizations are to the well-being of our society, there is ultimately no escape from the bottom line: individual responsibilities must be accepted and fulfilled if we are to truly reverse the negative trends that affect all of us today.

Maybe when we each make such commitments, we’ll rediscover what it felt like to believe in Santa Claus. That wouldn’t be too bad, would it?
[I know I still believe in him and play music of the season at times throughout the year.]



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