Three entities have played a major role in producing the culture we now live in: homes, schools and atheism. Our culture is one of weakened families, high out-of-wedlock birthrates, therapy-soaked education, mass shootings, drug use (including our pet drug, alcohol, the evils of which most adults refuse to acknowledge), opioid deaths, declining worship attendance, political incivility, ugly language, ubiquitous pornography and loneliness.

These are not the only characteristics of America today. Neighborliness still exists, charitable giving continues, most citizens are law-abiding and the economy is strong. Yet, there is currently a sure slide toward pure rancor and a decline of reasoned discourse.

Quite a few unhappy souls in the media and politics are blaming one person for this slide, even though that person was their creation. It was they who ignored the American worker, who sought to trade the role of nations for the glories of globalization. Preaching tolerance, they practiced intolerance toward Middle America. Perched behind television anchor desks, in Hollywood studios or resplendent Congressional offices, they scornfully dismissed all Americans who were not as “progressive” as they.

When their creation won the presidential race in 2016, they cried, literally. Blind for a solid year and a half to what a presidential campaign was revealing, and accepting polls as absolute truth, they viewed their creation as a fun toy, enjoying him since he gave politics a spark they considered novel. Then, uh-oh! Half of the nation’s voters took their toy seriously. He got elected. His warts were preferable to the snarky attitudes and squishy beliefs of his creators and their preferred candidate.

The losers forgot or simply didn’t know that many Americans still believe in (“cling to”) certain landmarks. Historically and literally, a landmark was a stone or a tree marking the boundary of land. You know, borders. But there are non-literal landmarks as well such as traditions or beliefs, held dear because they have held together civilization itself.

The home, which is to say marriage and family, is a landmark. It absolutely speaks of boundaries. Is not a man’s home his castle? His wife his beloved? His brood his future hope? Yet, even “wife” is now a bad word. Family is anything you want it to be. A couple? A trouple? You decide while the unraveling of monogamous marriage, a Western civilization landmark, continues. Kids don’t need a mommy and a dad anymore. Marriage and family are a mere social construct. What’s nature or God got to do with it?

The words of C.S. Lewis are relevant: “We remove the organ and still demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.” But “men” and “women” have gotta go. Call your state-supported university (even if you live in the South) and ask if it has sent out memos on the proper and expected use of pronouns. You might obtain firsthand knowledge of how academia is attacking the foundations of traditional culture, unless the Vice President for Diversity refuses to talk to you.

Speaking of diversity, it is higher education’s primary goal, displacing excellence. Diversity, as a goal, has become ruinous by the very fact that it politicizes education. Higher education’s aim is no longer learning but having on campus a certain percentage of different people, based on factors such as race. And don’t dare speak of “seeking the truth,” a former goal of Western universities, unless you can endure being laughed to scorn. The university is the land of no truth.

Atheism’s role? Its numbers are growing and their books are selling. Atheists desire a total religious lobotomy on America. If any nation’s birth resulted from a belief in the transcendent, it was America’s. Wherever America’s Judeo-Christian roots have spread, schools, hospitals, and orphanages have sprouted. Not so with our atheist friends who, as far as we know, don’t build schools, hospitals or orphanages.

One of my three atheist friends told me he complained to his Kiwanis Club president because of the Christian prayers. When challenged, he denied that atheism is a religious position, but a purely neutral secular stance.

Ah, atheistic secularism! The supposed default position of humanity. The refuge of those who resist the very thought of anything transcendent. There’s only matter and energy. We’re all mere dust, no matter what the Psalmist or Shakespeare’s Hamlet claimed. Could such a view affect an 18-year-old male’s conduct? His understanding of right and wrong? Mom and Dad, if he ever knew his dad, are out of the picture. To whom is he responsible?

Landmarks are not imaginary. They are steady markers that show us the way. We best restore them.

Roger Hines is a retired English teacher and state legislator in Kennesaw.