It's not uncommon for my wife and me to travel back roads on a trip, not only for a change of scenery, but to test our sense of direction.
We do have GPS capability in our vehicle but enjoy the challenge of just using the compass. It has never failed to point north, and has saved the day when it appeared that we were absolutely lost in the maze of country roads.
Thankfully, there is a standard of true direction. This is the case in the spirit of every human being. It's called a conscience - that inner light or divine voice, which witnesses right from wrong. It's that mystical, God-given feature that hopefully was trained in infancy and developed in childhood.
A century ago, school curriculums included the McGuffey Reader, whereby children could learn to read, while training their conscience with moral truth. Eventually, these forms of literature were removed, including the Bible itself, and the results in society are now evident.
I was particularly interested in the "uproar" regarding a recent indecent performance by Miley Cyrus of ''Hanna Montana'' fame. This so-called child role model, now at 20, has raised the dander of mothers who have second thoughts about her influence on their daughters. Initially there was some "noise" of criticism, but it didn't seem to last long.
Fifty years ago such a performance would have been utterly taboo, with serious repercussion. But the Madonnas and Lady Gagas have silenced and deadened the consciences of our young people, who are now adults. There's nothing shocking anymore!
With politicians and religious leaders who blatantly lie through their teeth, what hope is there for our younger generation?
We're bombarded every day with speeches and platitudes that muddle the waters of truth. There's no standard anymore, and people are simply doing what is right in their own eyes. An Anthony Weiner insists on running for mayor in New York City despite his blatant sexual and immoral exposure over the Internet. Evidently, there's no shame on his part or his supporters.
How far will this perverted thinking go? The educational tools and conscience-developing teachings of yesteryear are all but lost in the maze of "relativism" and humanism.
The moral compass has been changed by an evolutionary religion which makes "truth" whatever you want it to be. The result is confusion, because it counters that "red light" of conscience. Moreover, immorality now becomes the new "morality."
If the foundation is removed, what house can stand? The last I heard, two plus two still equals four; some things never change, and are the basis of our human existence.
Likewise, there's a definite distinction between right and wrong. Stealing and adultery are moral sins, never becoming anything else. To build young lives on "relative" precepts, with no absolutes, is an exercise in futility; the results are coming in rapidly, with parents and teachers racking their brains to curb the rising epidemic of rebellion among our children.
If we lose the fight to train the conscience of our youth regarding right and wrong, we can only foster greater personal anarchy and lawlessness in adulthood. Children grow up, and the little problems become big ones. Some "prude" once said, "If we paid more attention to the high chair, we might not have to worry about the 'electric chair.'"
People don't usually change drastically, for as adults we are what we have been becoming. Miley Cyrus, and others, are disappointing role models; our children need to be challenged to emulate those who have determined to do right, no matter what the cost.
It's significant that Tim Tebow continues be maintain his convictions amid his football struggles. Lesser men want him to fall and to compromise his standards. I believe that he is criticized by many who secretly admire him, but are intimidated by his strength of character. His career could be on the line, but so what!
Careers and moments of fame come and go, but integrity of character is here to stay.
Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org