Where Has All the Decency Gone?

We deserve what we get when we don’t speak up

like to keep my postings and stories free of politics and heavy stuff like that. Mainly I am focused on helping people achieve economic independence through residential real estate investing. I want more people to reach the point in their lives, as early as possible, to discover and experience the true freedom to determine what they want to do with the one thing that we all have the same off and can’t make any more — time. When you no longer have to exchange time for money but have the freedom to decide what you want to do. That can include the same things you do right now, because you love them a lot, or it can be something new you are really passionate about but never had the freedom to dedicate yourself to.

A few days ago my friend Barri reminded me that we are not just exchanging our time for money, but if we have a partner, spouse, kids, family members, we are also exchanging time with them for money. For many people that might be more impactful than their own time.

That’s what I normally focus on and then, the news of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was announced. It gave me pause.

photo by Steve Petteway from Wikimedia Commons

I had wondered a few times in the last few years why she did not retire in 2015, in her Eighties and make room for Barack Obama to fill her seat with a younger judge. I guess she was convinced Trump could not win.

When someone in a high position with long lasting impact dies there is a certain reverence that I feel, regardless weather I like the person’s positions, past decision, or believes. That was definitely the case here. Anybody who has served decades on the Supreme court deserves that reverence.

Then, my brain surprised me by reminding me of the environment we have become used to live in. The level of division that we are now used to. the need for constant fact checking and the revelation of lies on a daily basis at a frequency that is astonishing.

It reminded me about the deep trenches that have been dug and people in position on either side, indoctrinated with radical believes shouting at each other about hoax and fake things and the illegitimacy of the other side.

Quickly the real question related to these reminders emerged: How long will it take to move from honoring a lifetime of service to fighting over hypocrisy and replacement.

In my naive mind I thought it was fortunate to have an announcement on a Friday evening, with a weekend for reflection ahead of us. Next week would be quick but probably for the start of arguments to replace before or after the coming election.

I was very wrong. It took a few hours at most.

My conclusion: The United States and the prominent players we see on TV and in the media, each having positions of power, have lost all decency.

What’s that you ask: — Yes we have to ask for definitions because this society, regardless of believes either way, no longer seems to know what it is.

Decency is conformity to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc. decencies, the recognized standards of decent or proper behavior. Decency is defined as actions that are moral, modest or socially acceptable, or is what basics are required for a good standard of living.

So we, as a society don’t have the decency anymore to wait until a person has been laid to rest before talking about a replacement.

We don’t have the decency anymore to establish norms and then follow them — like claiming that the public should select who makes decisions of this magnitude.

We also don’t have the cultural norms established to guide us in times like this when an important person in our society has died. Many other cultures take time to establish norms that determine how long one should morn, how long one should reflect on the dead and her or his accomplishments, and how soon one should contemplate replacements.

What we have evolved towards is the simplicity of duality. We are led to believe that our life is a matter of simple choices:

  • Are you for life or against life?
  • Are you for extreme right or extreme left politics?
  • Are you for freedom of expression or law & order?
  • Are you for capitalism or socialism?
  • Are you for truth or “it is what it is — whatever gives the biggest benefit”?
  • Are you for equal opportunity or the survival of the fittest?
  • Are you the rule by the people or presidential fiat?

On and on the list goes.

The question that results is: Are we a society that deserves the term “exceptional”?

For more than 200 years, since the American Revolution, that has been claimed to be true for the United States. The reality is that there is nothing exceptional left.

In a few months the public has a chance to vote, but what are the choices? In my view the choices are variations of what we have had in the last 3–5 decades. There are no real significant differences that really change the system.

That begs the question what one can do when you realize the we have lost all decency, morals, love of truth, dependability, etc.

History is a guide to the answer. When you discover that your own principles are no longer aligned with the system you live in. when you discover that the norms and foundations of the system you live in don’t work for you anymore. When people feel oppressed, no longer aligned with the system they live in, robbed of opportunity, or, like in this case, presented with a system and culture that has deteriorated into a new form of anarchy.

Then you move — or as it is officially called — migrate.

Photo by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash

That’s not as novel an idea as it might sound. There were migrations in ancient times to escape slavery or oppression. There were migrations due to political decisions, like the separation of India and Pakistan that led to 100 million people migrating.

There was the migration of Jews from Europe to the rest of the world and especially Israel to escape nationalism.

Often, for long periods of time, the public hopes that a system has the ability to heal and reform and improve. even if things may have gone in the wrong direction for some time, there can be ways to return to a good path.

When really fundamental things are lost that hope is lost with it. You are again faced with a binary choice:

You can stay and fight or leave and find a place that offers a better opportunity to align your foundation, principles, norms, and believes.

How do you determine that it is time to move, leave, migrate?

The best way to make that determination is to look at your reaction and that of the people you follow and admire. If, like in this case, the decency appears to have disappeared, you can ask if your impression is right or wrong. If nobody seriously complaints or rejects the loss of decency, a new norm has been established.

As soon as you know or have confirmation, you can take action. That might mean you look for a place that it better aligned with your norms, values and aspirations.

Hoping that decency returns has not worked in history, unless you are willing to wait for a violent revolution.

Be well and decent.


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