"As I have often said, moral standards are the measure of society. Every great nation and every great empire in history had a moral falling away before they eventually collapsed.” Robert Walter's words are very disheartening, for we as a nation have seen the values we hold dear fall by the wayside. Cheating and lying run rampant in schools, while sex and violence are found not only in the slums but also in our own homes via television. How can we as a society stand around and watch our great America crumble before our very eyes? On September 12, 2001, we stood up to the terrorists, saying that we were Americans and would not be dispirited. At the same time, we were allowing our great country to fall into ruins by permitting immorality to surround us. America is a society with deteriorating values. This decline is shown by our lack of honesty and integrity, our allowance of the media to justify immorality, and our disrespect of ourselves and others.
Honesty and integrity are two of the qualities upon which this great nation was built, yet today we do not seem to find them very important. Cheating has always been a problem, but these days it is an everyday occurrence. Everyone from elementary children to CEOs of companies are doing it. According to Joseph's Institute of Ethics, 71% of all high school students have admitted that they cheated in an exam at least once. Jane Esiner reports that when students were asked if they would report another student for cheating, 93% said they would not. These traits lead to trouble not only in schools but also in the work place. Corporate CEOs are cheating both their companies and their investors out of money under the pretense of “compensation packages." As if that is not bad enough, our former President was allowed to remain in office even after he was impeached. Have we sunk so deep that we do not demand more of our Presidents?
The American public may be dismissing these [unethical] behaviors as commonplace because they are. Betty Wein said “I think Americans are insidiously being desensitized to decadence, to violence, and to barbarism." This desensitization may be a result of the messages that the media is sending out. For example, soap operas have made sleeping around and divorcing look easy.] According to The Catholic Weekly, “We have come to know that ‘I do’ professed at a soap opera wedding really means, ‘I do, until someone better comes along’” The music we listen to is also full of immoral messages. According to Billboard Magazine, "Popular music is a vehicle for racism, sexual hatred and the encouragement of sociopathic violence. Whenever a culture condones or accepts such practices because of their lucrative aspects, or pretends they are to be isolated or ignored, then the inherent falsehoods can flourish, infecting and despoiling the social contract itself."
Another problem we are facing is our lack of respect. People today do not seem to respect anything. Women today do not even respect themselves. Brown University's Children and Adolescent Behavior Letter states, "At one time, exposed midriffs and bare backs, shoulders, arms and legs were found mainly at the nearest beach or poolside. Today, however, this mode of dress--or undress-- appears regularly at public middle and high schools across the country." This may be one of the causes for the rise in premarital sex. According to several surveys, as many as half the teens age thirteen through nineteen are saying they have had oral sex and nearly one-tenth are reporting they lost their virginity before the age of 13. Even more alarming is the rise in pornography profits. According to the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography in its 1996 report, peep shows are the biggest moneymaking portion of the porn industry, with annual national net profits projected at $2,000,000,000. Porn is a very lucrative business. In fact, Ginger , a former peep show entertainer, put herself through New York University performing in the peeps and maintains that the shows are innocuous fun. "It's a safe, harmless way to have some erotica in one's life. It is certainly victimless and should be accepted in society." Eve (a peep show performer) states, “It's a job just like any other job. You're going to make money. You're going to do things that are going to give you nightmares, but you deal with it. You count your money and you don't think about it." How can women think so little of themselves that they are willing to put themselves *[their bodies] on display for money?
Our society is descending immorality at an alarming rate. If something is not done soon, we, like many of the great empires before us, shall crumble, only to be read about in history books. If American society is to continue to thrive and flourish, we must find ways to reestablish the values we have lost. Honesty and integrity must become our common goal if our nation is to survive. Americans must demand moral programs and music from the media, and we must learn to respect ourselves as wonderful creatures. With these and admirable values, America can return to being the great nation it can be.