Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 18, 2013

“If you like your current government, you can keep it. If you like your current congressmen — your political doctors — you can keep them, too.”

“If you like your current government, you can keep it. If you like your current congressmen — your political doctors — you can keep them, too.”    

Call me old-fashioned, but somewhere between political promises from Washington and Miley Cyrus twerking America, I sense a moral degeneracy in which truth and good taste are being trampled by greed and garishness.

Call me old-fashioned, but when guest speakers at Ivy League schools are shouted down and driven off the stage in the name of social justice and free speech, I see deeply irresponsible students and absentee university leaders.

Call me old-fashioned, but if I want moral perspective on parenting, politics, and proper behavior, I’ll delve back into my own ancestral writings. Impoverished peasants of several centuries ago evidently had more moral macho and manners than the spineless, tasteless, morally-bankrupt elite of today.

David Acheson of Pennsylvania, writing to his parents in Ireland, 1800: “Although far separated from you, I never cease to think of the most beloved and best of parents. When I reflect on the care and attention you bestowed upon me, the pains you took to instruct my youth in every good and virtuous thing, I wonder how it is possible that children should ever be ungrateful to their parents. I can never repay what you have done for me.”

Alexander Burns of Ireland, writing to his brother in America, 1805: “A spirit of indifference and infidelity has turned real religion out of doors. But still let us bless God and look to him to give us an understanding heart to know his mind and will and also to give us grace to make our lives and conversation agreeable to it. Guard against the degeneracy of the times, both in principle and practice.”

Scientists are currently searching for dark matter a mile underground in South Dakota. I would suggest they instead look at ground level in Washington, D.C., or merely turn on their TV set, smart phone, or Ipad — these are often rich sources of very dark matter.

Alexander Burns also commented on the deadly sectarian warfare between Protestants and Catholics then rampant in his neighborhood. I substitute political parties in his pithy comment below.

“There has been great Troubles here between Republicans and Democrats. The truth is there were faults on both sides, and it has brought Trouble on peaceable people. And that is often the case, the innocent suffers with the guilty.”

Not only has Alexander’s insight and wisdom stood the test of time, but he also had the chutzpah and temerity to suggest that we might even consult the Bible for guidance.  

A good starting point might be Philippians 4:8. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest ... just ... pure ... lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue and praise, think on these things.”

I would submit that David Acheson’s mother and father were wise and loving parents. And that both the Acheson and Burns families brought virtue and values to a new nation whose very foundation was steeped in wisdom and virtue.

Perhaps we have lost our moorings over the past several centuries. Let light extinguish that dark matter now rampant in our entertainment industry, political system, and even our everyday dealings with each other.    

Call me old-fashioned, but values and rugged individualism made American exceptionalism — not moral drift, massive government, debt, denial and dependency.

As the good book suggests, please think on these things — while we still have time to correct our course.

James F. Burns

Gainesville, Fla.

Burns is a professor emeritus at the University of Florida

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014

  • Speed cameras Speed cameras

    We’ve never been big fans of speed cameras, primarily for two reasons. First, because the cameras are not always accurate, and secondly because many jurisdictions seem to create revenue by installing cameras and issuing high numbers of speeding tickets.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Group wants status quo on Sunday hunting

    Many Maryland residents have grown very concerned about two legislative bills that are arriving on the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley after being approved by both the Senate and House chambers this session. With the governor’s possible signature of these bills into law, hunting would be allowed on certain state lands on Sundays — a day in the past reserved for rest and non-hunters to enjoy public lands.

    April 10, 2014