Half of America Doesn’t Believe…

— This article by Jerry Cates was published on 7 December 2011; it was last revised on 28 April 2014. © Govinthenews Vol 2:12(1).

Believe in what?

That’s the question, isn’t it? What do we believe in, and what don’t we? Religion? God? Freedom? Entitlement? Exceptionalism? Rugged Individualism? What?!!

Anyway, half of America doesn’t. Believe, that is. No, though we certainly could discuss such things, this post isn’t about religion, or God, or whether the sun is going to come up tomorrow morning and dip under the horizon at the end of the day. Just about everybody believes in all those things. I know, it is widely acknowledged that the majority of Americans today are secularists, but that does not mean they don’t believe in God. Atheists — true, dyed-in-the-wool atheists, those who disavow any belief in God and discount the value of religion in their lives on thoroughly logical, philosophical grounds — are rare. Too rare, in fact, to matter.

Genuine atheists aside, of the remainder about half say they don’t believe that freedom is all that great; they also doubt that rugged individualism is all it’s cracked up to be; and they are not convinced that exceptionalism, in their own lives or in the nation as a whole, is either real, possible, or worth pursuing. They do believe in one thing. though: they think that entitlement — that is, that because they exist, they are due some form of remuneration from the government (i.e., their fellow Americans) — is an inalienable right, and that any violation of that right is reprehensible.

Half of us think that way. Unless I am mistaken, that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in today. Today, not yesterday. Not many years ago, the percentages were different. When I was born in the early 1940’s, fewer than 25% of Americans thought that they were owed anything by their government. Over the intervening years, that percentage grew larger and larger, and recently — perhaps only since the turn of the new Millennium — it reached 50%. Why? What caused that? Were those causes genuine or false? Are those in the new 50% the honest realists of today? Or are they deluded? Shouldn’t we want to know the answers to those questions? After all, it was a slow, steady process. We didn’t get here overnight. Processes like that seem to bear the stamp of reality, but they can also be the result of other, more complicated processes that are no more real than the man in the moon. Regardless, we’re here. Now what do we do?

Good question. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing, where we are. Is it, or isn’t it? We’re going to explore that question in the coming days, weeks, and months. In the process, we’ll be asking questions and seeking answers on the nature of rights, what is criminal and what isn’t, exceptionalism, individualism, and freedom. Simple stuff? Some seem to think so, others — like myself — find these things mind-boggling. Who is right? To find out we will have to dig down to the nub of each of those expressions. My guess is we will be somewhat surprised at what we discover in the process.

And if any of those who read these words have the foggiest idea of where this article is going, leave me a comment. We’re treading on pretty boss territory here. Tell me what you think.


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