The Greatest Danger For American Culture

Like many of my fellow citizens, I watch the news with growing concern and, on some days, a hint of fear. I work hard to maintain a sense of perspective and as I review my current situation, I must admit that I have everything I need to make my way through this day with confidence and good cheer. Whether that will be true six months, a year, or ten years from now I certainly cannot say. I may not be here.

We all face challenges as we weave the stories of our lives. Most of us, at one time or another, will confront at least one challenge that taxes us beyond what we believe we are capable of enduring. Yet somehow we survive. We learn that danger can be overcome.

But the times we face today are different from others I have known, experienced, and endured. The difference I see is that so few people speak with simplicity, clarity, and truth.

There have always been hustlers and charlatans among us, people who play fast and loose with money and morals and who don’t bother to remember what they said because they don’t intend to live up to their promises. Politicians, as a class of people, have always been considered in this band of thieves.

But the behavior is more widespread today. And that is very dangerous.

Capitalism is built on trust. Historically, a handshake was enough to seal a deal. A person’s word was his bond, respected and honored by all parties. Contracts were once considered inviolable, so we signed them with thoughtfulness and care. We were careful with our language, too, knowing that it reflected the quality of our thinking.

Oh, the good old days.

The financial turmoil and political nihilism that form the backdrop of our current existence did not come about because a few rogues somehow overtook our systems. They seeped into our culture over decades of tiny little concessions of truth, the little white lies about everything from how we look to how many pennies were on the desk, from how faithful we are to how accountable we hold each other to things we agreed that mattered.

Close enough was good enough for long enough to make everything negotiable. But negotiating in good faith is in jeopardy because we can no longer tell who is telling the truth.

It is a dangerous place we live today, recoverable only if we can muster the courage and character to take ourselves in hand, to tell the truth, manage selfish desires, and act in the best interests of our communities and the future, not just ourselves.

Categories: Culture

About Susan Marshall

founder susan marshall

Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.