Helen had a lovely quote the other day: “a nation is only as powerful as its weakest citizen, as prosperous as its poorest, and as decent and moral as its empty jails.” Not surprisingly, I disagree fundamentally with the first two statements, but the third seems worth talking about. Certainly, if all of the citizens of a nation are decent and moral the jails will be empty. But, when large parts of the population reject decency and morality, what then? If the majority retains its decency and morality, the jails will quickly fill with those who have rejected decency and morality. Certainly, that is what has happened in the United States.
Tragically, large numbers of American have rejected decency and morality and our jails are bursting at the seems. The rejection has gotten so bad that Ron Dellums, of all people, is calling for more police to deal with the situation. When Dellums gives up and calls for more police, you know the left has utterly run out of ideas to deal with the problem. But, I’m not at all sure the right has any ideas either. I readily admit I don’t. Locking the indecent and immoral people up is a band-aid, dealing with the effect, rather than the cause. But the numerous causes — the breakdown of the family, the lessening influence of religion, the immorality of our leaders, the impact of Hollywood and those in the media who celebrate immorality, make your own list — are intractable.
Morality and decency are spread, if at all, into the heart of one person at a time. No government program, no private charity, nothing that I can think of, can turn around an entire society that has lost its way. So, as usual when Bookworm is away, I turn to her readers. What can be done to make our society a decent and moral one, to empty our jails because there is no need to fill them?