No Guardrails

(written in April, 1993)

We live in a constant state of flux. Our society is coming apart at the seams and we don’t even realize that we are rushing towards the edge of disaster. This was brought to our attention this last week as the Wall Street Journal ran two editorials on American’s decline.

Just since my high school years (the 60s) violent crimes have gone up by 560%, illegitimate births have increased by 419%, divorces have quadrupled, children in single-parent homes have tripled, and the teenage suicide rate is up 200%. All of this has occurred during a time that we have increased inflation, adjusted welfare spending by 30% and education spending by 225%. Walker Percy stated that our American future has subsided into decay by weariness, boredom, cynicism, greed, and helplessness. Alexander Solzhenitsyn says, “The West has been undergoing an erosion and obscuring the high moral and ethical ideals. The spiritual axis of life has grown dim.” William Bennett, former Secretary of Education, concludes, “Government, even at its best can never be more than an auxiliary to the development of character.”

The roaring 20’s led to the down times of the 30’s, then the war torn 40’s gave us a generation of workaholics, which in the 50’s strived to build their lives on a materialistic foundation. By the 60’s, a selfish generation of baby boomers campaigned against war, university presidents, and corporate practices, behavior codes, dress codes, and virtually all aspects of authority. By the 70’s, we announced, “if it feels good, do it!” As self-restraint was devalued, long time rules were also devalued. Repeatedly we lowered the barriers of acceptable personal conduct and we glamorized pleasure. By the 80’s, our greedy corporate society screamed, “Get all you can, and can all you get.” And in the 90’s we proclaimed, “Just do it!”. In the first decade of the next millennium all of these vices reached a new high.  Wall Street led the way with greed and the entertainment industry reached a new low in basic morality.

Systematically and consciously we have taken down the guardrails. The courts, the judges, the government, the schools, the families, and even the church lowered the guardrails. The “individual’s” rights were place above the society as a whole. We didn’t realize that by removing norms and standards for living, we made society more unbalanced, insecure and dangerous. We were led to believe that man is basically “Good” and could live without guardrails, while history teaches us that we all need to live within certain laws, in order to live peaceably together.

Proverbs tells us, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” God’s way is exactly the opposite of our natural inclinations. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those that find it.”

Perhaps it is not too late to let our youngest generation know that there are guardrails in life, and by walking within those guardrails we are able to experience life to its fullest. These rails are not meant to keep us from experiencing life but to keep us from destroying ourselves. Our families, schools, businesses, and governments must return to the practice of establishing standards for living. Left to ourselves, without limits, we will go over the edge every time.

Staying on the road,
Kent Humphreys

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)

Proverbs 14:12 (NIV), Matthew 7:13 (NIV)

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About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

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