Letter of the Day

from the Times-Dispatch

Society Must Address Root Causes of Trouble

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Nancy Ross’ eloquent Commentary column, “Connection With Faith May Boost Ideas of Worth, Direction,” addresses the problem of delinquent and directionless youth in poetic and reverential language. Her suggestion that “faith in God” will “direct our lost children to the comfort and love of self and others” implies that the source of the problem is a lack of faith and love. If only it were so.

The source of delinquency lies in other chronic public problems common today, such as racism and de facto segregation, underfunded public schools and crime in inner cities, violence, grim poverty, homelessness, and illnesses due to the lack of adequate nutrition and health care.

Admittedly, there are underlying beliefs and values at work here that are evidently self-centered, egotistical, materialistic, competitive, partisan, and combative. Moreover, they are popularly supported and pervade our personal and public lives in our homes, schools, businesses, entertainment, sports, politics, and even religion.

However, this country needn’t transform our democracy into a theocracy in order to reverse this trend. What we need is to re-commit ourselves to the revolutionary enlightenment principles embedded in the phrases “all men are created equal,” “with liberty and justice for all,” “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” “promote the general welfare,” as well as “freedom of religion.”

If long ago we had set our society’s stores by these democratic principles, we already would have provided the basic human resources needed to support and promote a decent, well-educated, competent, and hopeful way of life for every youth in this country. It’s painfully obvious that we have failed our youth by not living up to our principles.

If, individually and collectively, we are not willing to admit and resolve this insidious hypocrisy, then we mock the substantive meaning of love, compassion, democracy, and God, no matter how often or sincerely we invoke their moral codes of conduct or poetic imagery. J. Fay Kelle. richmond.

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