Democracy is without a doubt one of the greatest, and most successful, experiments in the history of mankind. The United States has proven this to the point that it has become the model for over half the world’s population. Combine that with capitalism, and you have an environment that provides for great strides in the human endeavor.
When the two work together in balance and complement each other, they serve as a springboard for great development of our human potential. But when competition gets stiff, the monetary bottom line gets threatened, and democracy allows for tremendous leeway to reach capitalistic goals. Then the combination of democracy and capitalism, although still succeeding together, can potentially become a poison to the human spirit.
As we see around us, people are literally being turned into consumers, disconnected from their families and a sense of purpose in their lives. Take today’s child as a prime example. How many of them define themselves by movie stars, consumer products, sports heroes, fashion statements, and the most recent fads? Obviously, this is nothing new, but the intensity of Madison Ave.’s efforts to attract their attention, and money, is much greater today than ever. In the next ten years we will see more new gadgets and inventions than we can imagine, with even greater pressures to consume.
As a result, parents are at conflict in the home with the same consumer mentality that they encourage in their business life. Loving, caring parents are often left having minimal if any influence on their children’s lives and values. Moral rights and wrongs, or ‘accepted behavior’, have become defined not by parents, family traditions, or religion, but rather by the courts and those who want us to consume. Roots are a thing of the past and the only reality for many of our young is what is popular in the here and now.
Without the third leg of the table, a moral compass, the combination of democracy and capitalism can eventually bring social decline. Freedom without this moral compass can potentially lead to massive narcissism and decadence, undermining both democracy and capitalism (in 2008 we saw how greed is the Achilles heel of capitalism). Our moral compass as a nation has become very unstable, and polarized. It used to come naturally in our society, but today one must be somewhat of a non-conformist to attain that correct balance.
Those who succeed in having a solid moral compass, whatever their financial bracket, realize it is the greatest foundation for true success and accomplishments in life. It is more important today than ever to develop it for ourselves, and transmit it to our children, no matter what it takes. Without it, they can easily be whisked away by the winds of a society which increasingly sees them as an object, not a potentially moral human being.