The mariner is writing a lesson book. It talks about the change and stress brought on Christians and the Christian doctrine as societies around the world leave behind the predictable life that existed before 1980.
Most of us don’t see society change as we live our daily lives. Yet, moving about each day, we are encased in an invisible atmosphere that shapes our reality, our attitude, our finances, our family values, our jobs, even how long we live.
True, there were significant issues like the Korean and Vietnam wars, gas shortages and the 60’s generation that burned bras, draft cards and loosened the taboos that governed sexual behavior. But the attitude was still solidly American. Changes to society occurred in an orderly, generational way. In the seventies, America went into space, the Beatles broke up, MASH started, Roe v. Wade passed, Richard Nixon resigned, Microsoft was founded, the Tangshan earthquake killed 250,000 people, Elvis was found dead, first test tube baby was born, and Mother Teresa won the Nobel Prize for peace.
The changes of the seventies were part of a positive upswing in our culture. But it would be the last nationally unified era. The 1980’s began a swing toward less unity in the country. No one could say “We are all Americans” with the innocence that existed in the time after the Big War.
Assassinations were attempted on the Pope and Ronald Reagan. AIDS was identified and the American culture ostracized homosexuals. Reagan announced his military Star Wars program. The US Embassy in Beirut was bombed. Indira Gandhi was assassinated. A hole in the Ozone layer was discovered. Rock Hudson died of AIDS. The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was sunk. Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded. US bombed Libya. New York Stock Exchange suffered Black Monday. The World Wide Web was invented.
By the 1990’s it was obvious that the middle class was squeezed out of the new profits generated by big corporations. By 2000, generational change had disappeared. The world was changing too fast. Telephone and Internet technologies had merged, providing new ways to learn, shop, communicate, receive medical treatment, even order groceries delivered to the door. Watch a movie, watch the news (world-wide and instantaneous), watch your house, and play endless games electronically. What Americans did with their time shifted dramatically. To a great extent, individuals became more isolated as the need for family routine in daily life dwindled.
Socially, the gap between generations became a canyon. If one was over 65 in 2000, they were not Americans anymore. They were seniors. If one wanted an abortion, they were a criminal, not an American. National banking practices created a nation of credit card debt. Slowly an oligarchy was emerging. No one was an American; they were rich or poor. Those who depended on welfare and unemployment were beggars and lazy – certainly not Americans.
The Christian ethic has taken a severe beating since 1980. Capitalism is the national religion. One hopes that Christ’s ethic can emerge like the phoenix to play a role in a culture that is increasingly shallow. The Earth is in trouble and capitalism makes it worse and further cannot fix the Earth’s plight. It is time for everyone to pay back to the planet for our indiscretions – without the need to make a profit. It is also the time to revive the spirit of the song, “We are the World” (1985)