However, I presently look at the future of our nation through the lens of a Panglossian. That is, an optimist who is neither blind nor naive. Such a person is not a roseate, meaning one who is incautiously optimistic.
Many prognosticators are giving economic and political forecasts based on what has always been. To predict the future based on what has always been is not planning, it is projecting. It assumes former factors will characterize the future with past results replicating themselves. What always has been is not what is always going to be. If the characteristics of a former society change, the future will not necessarily be like the past.
Failing to consider such potential changes perverts any future considerations. Therefore it is imperative to evaluate traits that have been stable in the past to determine if they are still basic in future planning. In evaluating the political and economic future of our nation, consider some past elements embodied in what America has been.
Does the same work ethic still prevail? Are people inclined to give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay? Is there ambition driving citizens to want to work for what they get?
Is personal and corporate integrity still alive? Does virtue still trump greed? Will deals cut in the dark prevail in the light of public scrutiny or long to stay hidden like vermin exposed to sunlight? Are people now inclined to be as good as their word and their word as good as they or is the excuse of "what I meant" a harbor in the storm?
Are there absolutes based on right always being right and wrong always being wrong? Is there integrity like that evidenced by a character in Bunyan's "Pilgrims Progress"? When offered a compromising solution in order to be delivered from prison, he said: "I will stay in this prison till the moss grows out of my eyebrows before I will make a butchery of my conscience or a slaughterhouse of my convictions."
Has public morality changed? One of the darkest days in the life of ancient Israel is described as a time when everyone did that which was right in his own eyes. Have sensuality and carnality eroded our morality? Has lewd become the new cool and vulgarity the "in" style? Has pornography imposed on marital fidelity and led to greater family instability?
Does public education teach economics and history? Are the values and virtues of our past extolled or our vices emphasized? Are we given to excessive self-flagellation, which can lead to self-defeat?
In our changing milieu will personality take precedence over policy, will character capitulate to charm? Will frugality, thrift, economy, conservation and moderation make a comeback?
Are we more given to feeding our entertainment and recreational appetites than cultivating our spiritual nature? Have our houses of worship given in to the culture proclaiming health, wealth and prosperity rather than challenging people to live out the spiritual requirements of their God?
Answers to these changing factors cause me to be a Panglossian.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church. Contact Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.