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U.S. in Moral, Social Decline



To the Editors of the Crimson:

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the lecture given by Professor Joseph S. Nye, July 17, on the "Decline of America" in the '90s.

First of all, by all indications, Mr. Nye seems to feel that the definition of decline entails a decline in economic, military and political influence abroad. This decline would be measured by the GNP, the death rate, influence in international markets and the value of the dollar. Unfortunately, although briefly mentioned, I don't think enough is said of the other type of decline in America; that is the decline morally, pyschologically, spiritually and socially.

My question to Mr. Nye and the American people is this: What good is imperial over-facts exist in this country: 1) a person is shot the miltary or the value of the dollar on international markets when the following facts exist in this country: 1) a person is shot with a gun every 18 seconds 2) an estimated six million are drug addicts and substance abusers 3) an estimated 25 million people are being treated for depression 4) 50 percent of the married couples divorce 5) 10 million homeless people continue to exist.

The problems listed above are but a few, but nonetheless are glaringly missed when conversations of a nation's greatness is contemplated. How can people, including Mr. Nye, talk or even worry about the prospect of the Germans or the Japanese overtaking us as world leaders when the problems of their own people are so horrendous. And yet still, people espouse that in order for the United States to continue as world leader, to be #1 as you will, we must always think in terms of how we look to the outside world.

It is interesting to note that the history of empires that have prospered and declined all followed a fairly similar pattern. Empires that were enormously powerful and wealthy eventually declined and were replaced. Historians tell us that not one single empire in world history was ever destroyed by invading armies or economic forces but rather were decayed and rotted from the inside out, causing the society and then the country to collapse in anarchy.

We are reminded that conditions in Rome around 300 A.D. were characterized by streetfighting, chaos, class wars, immorality, disregard for laws, selfishness, corruption, and a society whose hierarchy of leaders felt they were worthy of God-like worship. So then, am I to conclude that the overwhelming symptoms of decline in modern America are nothing more than a short lived empire slowly disintegrating from the inside and that this is a normal process in the evolution of empires? Or are America's problems simply the result of the complexity of the modern hi-tech information crazed world to which every nation is subject?

I say therefore to Mr. Nye and the readers, would it not be much better to go down in history as a nation whose leadership found a way to compassionately solve the problem of drug addiction and to give the addicts a meaning in life and a new start, to solve the problem of millions of homeless people and to be the world leader in the lowest murder rate in the world and not be so concerned with being #1 all the time.

In this regard, the United States reminds me of the executive that battled his way to the top of the corporate ladder. One day he looked from his lofty perch, a place of privilege, power, influence and wealth to the road he left behind. Easy to see but some-times difficult to accept, he saw his broken marriage, a shattered family whose children had no leadership and direction, and alie-nated friends. He began to realize that even his own health was suffering--although from all appearances and according to his business contacts he was the model of success. Inside, he was a mess, his personal life a disaster.

It is my prayer that America in the '90s turn inward and address the problems that have always meant the real decline of empires. Doug Marren   Summer School Student

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