A DECAYING CULTURE
By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 24-09-2015
Apart from a few months’ absence, I lived in the USA from 1974 till 2006. From 2006 onwards I live about 10 months of a year in India, and about 2 months in the USA. Currently I am in my yearly visit to the USA. I was struck by the awareness of the vast changes that have taken place from 1974 to 2015. 1974 in a way was a defining year for the cultural decline. That is not to say that the strands of decline were not there long before. In 1974 President Richard Nixon who had won a landslide victory resigned as the President of the USA as he was certain to be impeached for lying to the nation instead of upholding the US constitution. 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s were, perhaps, the peak of American prosperity and dream. The first computer that I had in mid-80’s did only very convenient word processing. The unimaginable revolution in internet and world-wide-web (www) began in early 90’s. The rest is history.
There was a sea change in social, moral, cultural, and economic spheres. Evils of racism were out-lawed, at least legally. Awareness of equality of races and sexes and all kinds of abuses and, especially, human rights began to dawn. A culture of affluence, excess, and waste stared at the degrading and pathetic poverty in the poor nations of the world. The moral confusion that began mainly with legalized abortion goes on unabated with the recent legalization of same-sex marriage. Transgender operations to find new physical sexual identity has only added to the confusion. How are individual rights limited by community needs and common well-being? Is individual freedom unlimited? Is one’s freedom limited by another’s freedom? These are questions that we need to answer for ourselves satisfactorily.
Since my living in the USA, many good things happened. Also some very bad things. With lying by government leaders and politicians, cheating by so-called reputed companies and financial managers, that had very destructive national and global consequences, and grievous abuse by clergy have all undermined the basic trust of common people. There is no family, perhaps, that has not been affected by the nightmare of alcoholism or the pervasive drug culture. The drug culture typically characterized by the hard drugs of heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth (amphetamine) has created an irresponsible group of people who lie, steal, attack or do anything to have their fix. Their casual and very irresponsible sexual behavior produce children whom they are not able to take care of. The unbridled capitalism with the consumer culture maintained by deceptive advertisements immensely contribute to the decaying culture. It may be interesting to note a few scandals recently in the news. Volkswgen, the number one auto-maker in the world, admitted that 11 million cars world-wide were equipped with devices to cheat emission test. The price of a life-saving medicine was increased overnight from $ 13.50 to $700. U. S. soldiers were reportedly told to ignore allied Afghan officers’ wide-spread sexual abuse of boys whom they keep as part of their social status.
There is greed for wealth and betrayal of trust everywhere. Truth and integrity have become casualties of the so-called good and prosperous life. Political grid-lock has become common everywhere. Healthy compromise is in very short supply. The me-generation still seems to hold sway. Religious hypocrisy and lack of compassion for the down-trodden are wide-spread. I see this decaying culture spreading fast in India. What can we do? We, each one of us, need to develop a set of principles based on truth, integrity, fairness, and compassion. In conclusion, I want to state that the US is very advanced in identifying human rights and attempting to enforce them. In India we need to begin conscientizing about human rights. Everywhere we need to tackle the culture of confusion and destruction armed with a solid value system.
About The Author
Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.