The world is in a state of intense turmoil and uncertainty across the globe, and America is no different. In fact, it could be argued that our current state of affairs is dire, and possibly the most damaged and unstable it has been in decades, perhaps even longer. Sure, we’ve dealt with our fair share of social injustices, wars, hate crimes, terrorism, political upheaval and more since the birth of this nation. But it’s hard to believe that even today, in 2019, we are still dealing with a moral breakdown that seems to begin with the White House and penetrate deep into the veins of society. America is in trouble. The people of this nation are in trouble. The leaders we should be able to turn to for guidance, hope, stability, solutions and support are in trouble (in reality, they are often causing the trouble). The rest of the developed world is watching as we as a nation crumble. But this is not the end. What it is, is a turning point.
America needs a morality makeover in a big way. And it’s about time we start to think about how to actually achieve this moral and spiritual awakening, and what it even means to refresh the moral compass of our country.
Back during the days of the civil war Abraham Lincoln talked about rising to the occasion during the “stormy present” and learning how to “act anew” to save the future and the soul of our country. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and talked about how the only thing powerful enough to drive out darkness is light and love. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In the Broadway musical Hamilton, which tells the story of the American Revolution, they say, “”Are we a nation of states? What’s the state of our nation?” — lyrics that have never rang more true or been more relevant. Fast forward to today, where our President is tweeting (we never thought we’d utter those words) that four minority congresswomen should “go back to the crime-infested places from which they came.” PS, all four congresswomen are American citizens and three of the four were born in the US.
What happened to us? What exactly is the state of our nation? If you follow the news, read about the hate crimes and racism rants, pay attention to the political debates and even if you just stay tuned on Twitter it is pretty clear: America is divided.
There are some hard truths that we as a nation need to recognize, own up to, and ultimately commit to fixing. It’s not an easy task, because it requires diving deep into some of the hatred and resentment that has been prevalent in this country for years, but often swept under the rug. First, we need to acknowledge the state of the nation, and then we need to find a leader who is prepared to deal with what needs to happen next. Let’s start with the current state of affairs.
On the Morality Scale, Where We Are Now?
If you had to judge the morality of a nation on a scale of 1-to-10, 1 being completely lacking morals and without a basic sense of decency and humanity, and 10 being a nation of saints, where would we net out? It’s hard to actually put a solid number to it, though it could be argued that Trump’s perpetual insults, his use of fear as a weapon and his consistently offensive attacks on minorities (or anyone who challenges him) tilts the scale in a terrifying direction. His racist rhetoric has emboldened a new breed of white nationalists and has reduced people to their most immoral selves in ways that are unprecedented in America’s presidential history.
While some people choose to stay mum on the subject, presidential candidates certainly are not keeping their mouths shut. And one of the first to speak out is democratic candidate Marianne Williamson. The author, motivational speaker, spiritual counselor and activist is taking aim at Trump and demanding that the American public pay attention for the sake of the soul of our country.
“We’ve never dealt with a figure like this in American history before. This man, our President, is not just a politician; he’s a phenomenon. And an insider political game will not be able to defeat it… The only thing that will defeat him is if we have a phenomenon of equal force, and that phenomenon is a moral uprising of the American people,” she says.
Her entire campaign and proposed policies revolve around this idea of reigniting America’s spiritual awakening and reinventing the moral identity of the nation. “We need to face some things that are difficult to face,” said Williamson during the last CNN debate. “We need to rise from the ashes of denial and despair to do something about them.” In an interview with Anderson Cooper she talked about her plans to create a moral economy and on her campaign website she refers to the current state of the economy as “an economic system with no sense of ethical or moral responsibility.” Her plan is to instill an economy and a government that puts humanity before utility and that is run more like a family, with our values guiding us, and less like a corporation. And she plans to speak the truth and address the hard issues that are tearing our country apart at the seams and threaten to undo whatever morality we have left. “My strategy is that I seek to speak as deeply, articulately and passionately as I can. I’m not trying to figure out what to say to get people to vote for me. I’m seeking to have the conversation that I believe we need to be having. These are very serious times. We need to be very serious, deep thinkers.”
In addition to Williamson, Mitt Romney also has a lot to say about America’s current moral status (or lack thereof). In a January Op-Ed for the Washington Post, Republican Senator for Utah Mitt Romney (and 2012 presidential nominee) said, “to a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.” A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
He continued to say that Trump’s “conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
The Tragedies of Today Are a Call to Action for Tomorrow
As we face divisive leadership, hatred, racist violence, and domestic terrorism in the form of mass shootings and hate crimes, we are offered a choice – denial or action. We can choose to ignore the blatant offenses, attacks and social injustices sweeping our nation, or we can rise to the occasion in ways our current administration is not. We can mobilize. We can address the moral failure in front of us and choose to stand behind leaders offering a morality makeover for this country, a makeover that will bring America back to the state of actual greatness (not just ugly red hats). We can support an uprising that will help our country embrace the inherent goodness of America’s humanity. We need to be reminded what America is supposed to stand for and what our founding fathers intended for this nation. And in order to be reminded of these fundamental values, we need to first openly address where we have failed our ethical responsibility to act with moral intentions.
Blaming the deadly shooting in El Paso where 22 Americans were killed on mental illness and video games (I mean, come ON) will not fix the problems that are plaguing our country. Addressing and condemning the hateful rants and anti-Latino sentiments that fueled the attackers actions might be the harder response, but it’s the only path to healing and to preventing future attacks. Tweeting that immigrants are “criminals” and “rapists” and are a threat to our nation is not a solution to the immigration debate or the crisis at our border. Telling American citizens who challenge the current administration to “go back to where they came from” is not fixing anything. Denying Latino immigrants their rights to asylum and ripping families apart is not a short term or a long-term fix. On the flip side, presenting sound, just, moral plans that provide a path to citizenship for immigrants crossing our border just might restore peace and humanity during these stormy times. Calling out white nationalists for their hate-fueled, racist acts of pure evil is the first step in making sure those kinds of tragic events do not become a trend and never happen again.
When immorality and offensive behaviors seem to become the norm, and the chasm in our country seems to be growing every day, that is when good people with good intentions need to rise up. As Michelle Obama said, “when they go low, we go high.”
And perhaps most importantly for lawmakers and politicians, we must reach beyond partisan lines to find common ground in line with our nation’s civility and cultural beliefs. We need a moral uprising, but it can’t come from just one political party and it won’t be achievable if the right and the left are too busy fighting over policy, forgetting about humanity in the process.
In an interview with author Margie Warrell on her “Live Brave” podcast, Williamson said, “Democracy is not just about our rights; it’s about our responsibilities.” It is all of our responsibility to use our voices to bring about change and to fight for what is morally just, and to determine the kind of country we want to live in and the legacy we want to leave behind for future generations.