How our country has become ‘empty inside’

Randy Conover
What’s wrong with this picture? An older, grandmotherly lady is shown on a video sitting aboard a bus receiving verbal abuse from a group of youngsters, no one acts to stop the incident.

More of the story – the lady is in her late-60s, a widow, has had to take a low-paying job ($15,000/year) as a school bus monitor to make ends meet.

Still more – The abusing youngsters are four 13-year old boys riding the bus. They are taking a cell phone video of their abuse to send over the electronic communication circuit in order that they become famous.

More yet – The boys were using foul/vulgar language often requiring “bleeping-out” by the various network news/commentary media broadcasting the video of the incident. Their comments were deriding her because she was overweight (stating that if she was stuck with a knife, it would be like going through butter), making fun of her clothing and purse because they were purchased at a discount store (she told them that she bought the purse because of the message it carried: to expect miracles, live with integrity), saying that she was sweating because she was so fat (as she wiped tears, telling them that she wasn’t sweating, she was crying, which brought her more derision and laughter), etc.

More of the story? Oh, Yes! – For this incident the school district has not taken action against the boys, nor supported the lady. The boys’ parents have done little or nothing: one stating that he’d have his son write a note of apology to the lady, another father stating that he felt that his son had been punished enough already (by what? Having the networks air the video? That’s the reward which the kids had hoped for!!!) And what about the other kids on the bus? Why didn’t they intervene? The bus driver? What about stopping the bus and coming to the aid of his/her colleague?

If the above relating, gleaned from various radio and TV news/commentary reports, is indeed accurate (even in part) it is yet another sad picture of how far our nation has fallen. For fear of lawsuits, many schools allow young toughs and gangs to “bully” the weak, often punishing those courageous enough to stand up to the thugs while letting the evils go free. At the same time, politicians are using these situations for their political gain, getting their face on TV calling for action against “bullies.”

I’d like to write here that this is but an isolated incident, that this is simply a case of the news media being sensationalistic. Unfortunately, it is not. One only has to turn on the news in any city in today’s America and report after report of our youth involved in serious crimes (robbery, drugs, rape, murder, etc.) will be heard daily, if not new by the hour! Why is this happening?

Certainly one reason is that modern American society is failing to develop in our young people a proper moral compass with which they may be guided through life’s choices. Glenn Beck has stated on nationwide TV that these youngsters in the case on the school bus are “empty.” Think about it, “empty inside.” How can that be – that there is no sense of right and wrong; no conscience over how one treats others; others are just objects to be manipulated as puppets for oneself’s pleasure; “if it feels good, do it.” A few years ago, a T-shirt popular with youth read “No Fear!” Often this was translated that no matter what the youngster did wrong, correction and punishment would be near non-existent. This attitude is becoming more and more prevalent in America today.

Contrary to what some history revisionists would have us believe, America was founded by Christians. They came here for religious reasons. The men and women of our founding period would be appalled to see how we’ve let what they gave us degenerate. Many reasons exist as to why our youth are “empty inside.” Let’s briefly look into one which is often shoved aside in our modern, sophisticated, much smarter America of today.

America’s founding generation in creating our nation, wrote some of the world’s greatest documents. Certainly among these are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. However, often forgotten among these writings is another setting down the foundation by which our nation was to grow: the Northwest Ordinance of 1789. In its Article III, the Founders wrote “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” This concept was often copied into the required state constitutions as new states were added, including Ohio in 1803. Clearly, the Founders recognized the value of the morals taught by Christian beliefs. Indeed, President John Adams wrote in 1798, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other people.”

Then, just after the American Civil War, Europeans began turning from Christianity and towards other life philosophies, including Communism, Fascism, Socialism. Over the years, these state-supreme ideas spread. God was pushed aside. By 1947, in the U.S. Supreme Court decision Everson v. Board of Education, a twisting of Thomas Jefferson’s writings was taken out of context to justify the European-style government without God and a “wall of separation between church and state” was proclaimed throughout our nation. Since then, court ruling after court ruling numbering in the thousands (prior to Everson, few were the instances where the courts ventured into interference in religious issues) have increasingly worked to remove Christian teachings from our people, our schools. Legalism has overwhelmed morality, negating the balance intended by the Founders. The courts have taken the role of moral arbiter, moral teacher – something never intended by the Founders. Occasionally however, a flicker or recognition of this being dangerous does appear. In a ruling in 1989, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote “This Court is ill-equipped to sit as a national theology board, and I question both the wisdom and the constitutionality of its doing so” [dissent, Allegheny County v. Pittsburg ACLU]. True wisdom which should be spread far and wide if we are to save this country!

And what has been put in the souls of our youth replacing Christian morality?…If it feels good, do it. Moral relativity, no eternal principles of right and wrong, no moral compass by which a lifetime may be steered – thus a resultant lack of conscience, an emptiness inside.

Randy Conover is a retired educator. He lives in Clermont County.