There is an old saying that is more than a truism: “Ideas have Consequences.”
Many times we simply enjoy the fruits of the creative genius – or misapplied innovation – of people who came before us.
Do we ever stop to ask ourselves: Where did the light bulb come from? Or what lay hold of a person to think about creating a telephone, a sewing machine, or a refrigerator?
All of the aforementioned commodities first existed as concepts in someone’s mind before they took on tangible form and expression.
Ideas do have consequences in determining the quality of life that we live.
Furthermore, when one surveys the different governmental and economic systems that are utilized around the globe it becomes readily apparent that some socio-economic systems do a better job of delivering goods and services such as liberty, freedom, the rule of law, and material abundance than others.
Where did our governmental structures originate from and what caused them to come into being?
In the United States, our country utilized a “free market” approach with reference to how goods and services – which are scarce – are allocated and appropriated within the nation. The great Theologian and Economist Adam Smith referred to the free market as the “natural system of liberty” (it would be Karl Marx who would call the economic structure in Western Europe and the United States a “Capitalistic” economic system).
The “natural system of liberty?” The free market? Capitalistic or Socialistic economics? We tend to take these systems for granted, but did they not first exist in the minds of many people before they found a place for gestation?
The United States like so many other nations of the world experiences many different twists and turns in its national history with regards to how the blessings of liberty are bestowed and shared.
What may come as a surprise to many people is that what has enabled the “natural system of liberty” along with the Constitutional framework of the United States government to thrive for more than 200 years is that the foundational structure is built on a unique prevailing “ethos” derived from the belief system of the United States citizens of previous generations.
Ideas from the past also have consequences.
To borrow a term from Edmund Burke we are affected by the “democracy of the dead” as our forbearers still speak from the grave.
The word “ethos” is a Greek word from antiquity that this writer originally heard employed by a late and profound theologian by the name of Francis A. Schaeffer more than 30 years ago.
The word “ethos” literally means the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations.
Wow, this is a mouthful of a definition is it not?
This writer believes that the United States of today suffers from a type of “collective national amnesia.” We act and believe at times as if we are truly autonomous or self-ruled without accountability to anyone or anything.
(Philosophers and Theologians argue that by definition only an omnipotent being of some form could ever be truly autonomous.)\
Nearly 170 years before the founding of our great nation (1619 to 1776) our Pilgrim and Founding Fathers bequeathed a unique “Judeo-Christian Ethos” to the American colonists that provided the foundational structure in which our great nation could move forward and advance.
Question #1: Do we truly believe that the current fads of today are smarter than the centuries of collected wisdom bequeathed to us by our ancestors?
Question # 2: Do we feel and believe that we are beyond hubris or over-weening pride by thinking that our breathtaking technological pursuits mean that the old morality does not apply to us today?
Ideas do have consequences.
Over the last 80 years our culture has slowly supplanted the “Judeo-Christian” ethos with one built on naturalism (a worldview that rejects a Creator or a Supernatural origin).
Do we like the fruits of the “naturalistic worldview” with regards to family disintegration; failing schools; heavy divorce rates; falling national educational standards; high criminal recidivism rates and incarceration – and an erosion of honesty within the “public square?”
My friend, you be the judge.
This writer invites your responses – and he says, Thanks You in advance.