The first is an article entitled Timshel, America by Cindy Simpson. Simpson points out that the English translations of the Bible have translated Genesis 4:7 wrongly. The English translation of the verb "timshel" has been "shall" which would indicate that God ordered Cain to overcome his sinful thoughts. But the actual Hebrew text is that Cain "may" overcome his sinful thoughts, or he may not. It is up to Cain.
In point of fact, it is up to each of us, every day. We have free will, as God indicates in this passage. But to exercise our liberty, we must learn to govern ourselves. Indeed, that used to be the main point in raising children; to take barbarians who display all the attributes of a sociopath, and train them up to govern themselves in civil society. Simpson:
The breakdown in the system of virtues which had previously obtained began in the early part of the 20th century. The "flapper" was an open and visible sign of that breakdown. While certainly most of the supposed flappers were merely trying to look like the in-crowd, the in-crowd youth became more licentious, using drugs and having casual sex out of wedlock. The great depression put an end to the age of the flapper. It was the hippie generation that truly overturned the old virtues that they considered outmoded. Too bad they had not studied a little more history. Any time that it is perceived that the people can not, or will not exercise virtue on their own, then the State is eventually called upon to impose these virtues by force, and of course the State is all to happy to oblige. But by imposing virtues by force, the State takes away the very essence being virtuous, and infantilizes the population. Simpson again:
Dr. Patrick Deneen, in his presentation "Community AND Liberty OR Individualism AND Statism" for the I.S.I. conference on "The Language of Liberty," explained that in earlier times, liberty was considered "the cultivated ability to exercise self-governance, to limit ourselves in accordance with our nature and the natural world. The various practices by which we exercise self-limitation and self-governance is comprehensively called virtue...the inability or unwillingness to exercise virtue was tantamount to the absence of liberty...Thus, for the ancients, law was not an unnatural imposition of humanity's natural freedom; rather, law (ideally, a self-imposed law) was the necessary and enabling condition for liberty."
The second article at the American Thinker, on the same theme, is America: The Living Portrait of Dorian Gray by John Griffing. After going through a litany of liberties lost, and Constitutionally protected rights ignored, Griffing writes this:
While our personal New Year's resolutions are still fresh on our minds, another kind of resolve for "We the People" must also be contemplated: the vital need to halt the loss of individual freedom -- an eroding movement that has gained in momentum and threatens to ultimately transform our nation into a tyranny that commands of its people, "do thou." We must strive to assert the responsibility found in "thou mayest."
He goes on to sound the alarm, not unlike an Old Testament Prophet:
At the root of all these changes is not merely one political deviant, or even some organized conspiracy to overthrow freedom and decency in America. It is the collective abandonment of God and associated moral virtue by a once-God-fearing people.
Yes, something is terribly wrong in America. What is wrong is that we no longer value or practice traditional virtues. Please understand that true religious faith is not required to practice virtue, but it does help if more people trust in Divine Providence. How else can we hope to change a generation of people who seem to have embarked on a nihilistic path without a firm reliance on God.
More recently, a gang of about fifty teenage girls is reported to have camped outside a classmate's home with guns and knives, shouting death threats at the intended victim. Two police who intervened were beaten within inches of their lives by this lawless teenage mob. Teenagers no longer fit the Americana Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello mold.
Few can deny that a substantial shift in community instincts has occurred. Remember when the injury of a fellow citizen would bring the help of others, and maybe the police? Now it brings phone-cameras and crowds of entertained observers. Something is terribly wrong in America.
Freedom itself is the result of a nation with laws. And nations with laws are the product of cultures grounded in religious morality. The two items are inseparable. Legal boundaries are based on moral boundaries. For example, why is it wrong to kill if there is no God, or alternatively, no universal source of morality?We are often at pains to assert our natural rights, but those rights have corresponding responsibilities. Our right to bear arms presupposes that we will not use those arms to murder our fellow man. The right to a free press presupposes that we will not commit libel. Once we no longer recognize our responsibilities, our rights disappear as well.
In the same way, what is done in private cannot be separated from what is done in public. At some point, worlds collide, and lawlessness is unleashed. Warped minds in private will always yield warped behavior in public. This claim is substantiated in numerous psychological studies.