Contemporary American society exhibits a curious combination of greater moral sensitivity and increasing immoral behavior. It is good to see concern for the rights of minorities, the wrongs against the environment, the improvement of the lot of the poor, and the propriety of the conduct of the Viet Nam war. But no one need take these concerns as harbingers of an impending millennium, for along with them has come an increase in vandalism, shop-lifting, cheating in schools, crime in the streets, and so-called white-collar crime. Tax evasion and political corruption persist at appallingly high levels. Shoddiness in manufacturing and in service, deception in advertising and in salesmanship, absenteeism and laziness on the job, drunkdriving and, perhaps even worse, the continued toleration of it, marital infidelity and break-ups—these are but a few of the signs of the essential and pervasive wickedness of men.
We rejoice that God in his common grace permits men to rise above the basest levels of behavior on specific issues at certain times. But those who are concerned with destruction in Viet Nam often seem heedless of the destruction of the environment at home. How else explain the immense amount of litter they leave in their wake after assembling to protest or the air- and lung-polluting smoke to which their discarded cigarette butts give testimony? (At least the Army teaches you how to “field-strip” a cigarette!)
It is good that so many in our society are concerned with obedience to the law, but it is distressing that, for example, when the law was enforced against Lieutenant Calley, countless Americans rose up to revile the conscientious jurors and argue that in war anything goes, even the killing of unresisting prisoners. ...1
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