1960: America’s Moral Crisis – Past Daily Reference Room
1960 – America’s Moral Crisis. Yes, there was one, and people were starting to notice. American was becoming a hedonistic place; high on greed, low on morals. Lying, corruption and white collar crime were skyrocketing.
People were beginning to question just what had happened to America’s moral center – the part that was honest, trustworthy and benevolent. Where did it go? Or, more importantly, was it ever there?
And so this question of morals, and the crisis in America’s morals and values were the subject of this episode of The Open Mind; a discussion program which tackled those pertinent issues of the day.
The moral question was the burning issue this week – and it was wondered if America was capable of making the right decisions, especially in times of uncertainty and stress. We were also a nation of ironies – we had made huge strides in Science, we were inching that much closer to sending a man to the Moon – yet, saw helping those less fortunate or making opportunities available for everyone to be an abstract concept. We also saw Science as something quite capable of destroying us (the Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs) and were rapidly become incapable of dealing with the moral issues those brought up.
The issue of Morality in Politics was an important one, and this one seemed to be the in the most dire and dangerous condition. The notion that elected officials in high public office exhibited little or no moral ethics, by way of lying, cheating and taking bribes, was a sad indictment of our political system.
The question of Ethics was one to be found on most American’s minds. It was felt by many that it was changing – many hoped it was for the better. But fear that we were becoming a greed-based society concerned most; exasperated by the Cold War and the sense of eminent doom and obliteration caused many to have a “there is no tomorrow” approach to life.
All potent questions, posed to a panel of writers and educators on May 5, 1960; fifty-six years ago. Has much changed since? No – in fact, if anything, it’s gotten worse. One can only imagine how the panelists would have felt if they had a glimpse of the world in 2016, rather than 1960.
The only comfort is knowing it has been an issue with us for a very long time – and like everything, doesn’t just happen overnight.
Here is that episode of The Open Mind from May 5, 1960.