Are Things Really "Better Than You Think?"

You are here

Are Things Really "Better Than You Think?"

Login or Create an Account

With a account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


A recent feature article in a major American newsweekly stated that "Things are better than you think... In 2005, as in 2004, the world economy grew about 5 percent according to the International Monetary Fund, and the IMF projects similar growth for several years to come... The great engine of growth is, of course, the United States—which produces more than one fifth of world economic product and whose gross domestic product has been growing at around 4 percent—4.8 percent in the last quarter" (US News & World Report, May 29, emphasis added throughout).

Of course, several other major economies are growing as well, a few at even greater rates than the American economy. The writer finally concluded that "In most important respects, our [Western] civilization is performing splendidly."

But is this a true and accurate portrayal of what in fact is really happening to the United States in particular and the Western world in general?

The very next feature article, by another author in the same issue of this American newsweekly starkly presented the flip side of the coin. "Sadly, Katrina has become a metaphor for what can happen when challenges to our well-being gain force, and we fail to address them" (US News and World Report, May 29).

As the author sees it, five big things are wrong with America: "Mediocre schools mean we become less competitive. High medical costs make it impossible to bring our deficits down. A lack of energy independence makes us even more hostage to others. Losing our competitive edge lowers our incomes and makes it harder to pay for better schools and information systems that could help reduce healthcare costs. Each gathers force year by year" (ibid.).

Which one of the two scenarios should we believe? Remember that the reality of extreme views usually falls somewhere in the middle. It is certainly true that so far no other nation has first invented so much and then so successfully taken advantage of our modern technology and globalization like America has.

Yet only one in four U.S. citizens believe the U.S. economy is now performing well. The traditional middle class feels economically squeezed and social mobility "from poverty to riches" is now greater in some European countries. Yet in any economic evaluation no one should underestimate the propensity of Americans to find solutions to stubbornly difficult, knotty problems. They've done it before!

But the real problem has not even been addressed in these two disparate and very different scenarios. What is wrong with America and the Western world as a whole involves basic morality—not economics and materialism. Here is the real challenge to our well-being: Our fundamental problem is moral. Many facets of Western immorality could be cited to support our case.

For instance in America today, although the religious right is fighting a courageous battle, the gay agenda and same-sex marriage proponents are gradually gaining strength. The chances of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages are in the vernacular, slim and none.

Also the ready availability of hardcore pornographic films in most major five star hotels and motels is an unnecessary temptation to traveling businessmen in particular. What one sees can often translate into what one does. Yet money talks and what is morally best for the whole nation is not a serious consideration.

In dealing with film piracy, we have now reached the embarrassing low point where "Smut giants are showing mainstream Hollywood how to fight back" (Business Week, June 19). Even more disturbing is "A sample of 10 million U.S. Internet users shows the most trafficked sites by category during the week ended May 26, [and] X-rated fare [adult entertainment] leads the pack" over email services, more acceptable entertainment, search engines, business and finances, shopping and classifieds, etc. (ibid.).

Are things really better than we think? Not really when we consider the things that truly count in the long run. When are we in the United States and the Western world as a whole going to return to keeping the Ten Commandments? Do many of us even know what all 10 are? No matter what your neighbor does or doesn't do, you can personally and individually decide to swim upstream and begin leading a truly abundant moral life (John 10:10).

The United Church of God publishes a free booklet that explains the relevance of the Ten Commandments to modern life. It will help start you in the right direction if you are not already keeping them. Each one is carefully and thoughtfully explained in an in-depth manner according to sound biblical principles as applied to our everyday lives.

Please request or download our free 80-page publication simply titled The Ten Commandments.