“Come, my friends, ’tis not too late to seek a newer world.” These words, penned by Tennyson, have a message that young Americans should know: The potential to do great, honorable things exists, and we must push on to find it.
The backbone of this effort will undoubtedly involve morality, but some fear America’s moral integrity is fading.
“We were better and now we’re worse,” said Shannon Murphy, a sophomore piano performance major.
The idea that America has somehow fallen from grace is not uncommon.
“Religion, I believe, helps create morality,” said Kyle Collins, a junior political science major. “Not only do fewer people go to church, but people seem to also be less inclined to support a religion.”
So, how can we apply morality, apart from religion, to the unique circumstances of our times?
“We are at a crossroads in America right now,” said Anthony Baron, a junior piano performance/voice performance major. “We have this rare opportunity to decide, ‘How do we want to shape ourselves with the growth of world media?’”
What will we decide to do with such communicative capacity?
“In general, Americans need to take more responsibility in educating themselves on issues affecting the world, not just their own lives,” said Ryan John, a sophomore music education/voice performance major. “By learning as much as possible, people can develop their morals and bolster their judgment.”
But this technology holds frightening possibilities for those who fear that without a firm, moral hand to guide us, we will abuse rather than use. Will virtues be upheld as we progress?
“I think that the whole world would go around quite easy if everyone was just honest,” said senior Julianne Zervopoulos, a music major.
Murphy observes that honesty “is not just through words, it’s even through actions.” But is it our reactions to such behavior that’s different?
“It’s telling that the whole way affairs are viewed in the media has completely changed,” Baron said. “We’ve decided it’s acceptable to talk about these things.”
At the very least, we are becoming more honest about our disloyalties.
“One of the greatest qualities of a moral person is the golden rule: Do unto others as you would [have them] do unto you,” said Collins.
But have Americans become too selfish to function under such a principle?
“I think the materialism and need for attention are huge problems hurting the morality of America,” said John.
Yet what is most worrisome is that selfishness is often viewed as expected, commonplace behavior for Americans. As Baron said, “The American spirit is one of determination and not one of complacency. And I worry that that is what we’re losing.”
“We’re a really selfish people, but we can work on it,” Murphy said.
How do younger generations go about this?
Baron proposed, “What really needs to happen is what is already starting: serious, honest, open discussions about our problems and how to fix them.”
Americans must not lose that enduring, endearing drive that has already taken us so far. Faced with the moral challenges of these times, we cannot lose faith in ourselves.
Junior voice performance major