Sometimes it seems like most of the news is "bad." Every time we pick up our daily newspaper, someone is being robbed, shot, raped, scammed, or having their property stolen or damaged. People are driving around the community without licenses, tags or insurance. If they go to court and are put on probation, they soon become probation violators. Some operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol and drugs; others join gangs and vandalize neighborhoods. Holiday scams and fake money are becoming more popular. Store owners and taxi drivers are being robbed at gunpoint and sexual assaults are much too common. Child molestation is often front-page news. All this kind of thing is getting much too frequent for once a peaceful, quiet, rural community.
We read stories about individuals stealing copper pipe out of homes under construction. Copper prices bring thefts from heating and air conditioning units in new homes. Metal sells well in salvage yards. Even our churches are being raided. Lest we think crime is on the rise only here in the Atlanta suburbs, Tewkesbury, England, crooks are stealing the lead off of church roofs.
Can you imagine that more than 1,000 churches there have lost their lead roofs to thieves who are selling the metal to salvage yards? When crimes like this occur and people harm their friends and hometowns, the heart and soul of the community is ripped away. What has happened to our morals?
It appears that too many among us are all out for No. 1. Greed is commonplace. There are numerous reports of abuses in the credit card business. Some companies are far less consumer friendly than they were in soliciting your business. They mail statements late, giving only a few days left for you to pay before the interest rates rise.
Questions of morality arise everywhere in our society. Even Congress provides many examples of corruption or self-serving decisions. One of the latest incidents involves the announcement by Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott that he is leaving before his term ends in December. Observers believe he is trying to circumvent a new ethics law that begins in January. The new law says that anyone leaving Congress must wait two years before registering to become a lobbyist. Mr. Lott claims his reasons for leaving have nothing to do with this new law, so we will just have to wait to see if he doesn't begin lobbying after departing the Senate. He may be joining the several hundred other members who left Congress since the late 1990s to boost their salaries several times over by working as lobbyists. And, maybe he really is going to spend more time with family.
We know many of us to be wise and principled people. We also know some among us are evil and lack a sense of morality. Living in a community like Rockdale County, each of us hopes people residing here and calling themselves our neighbors choose to live under the rule of law and not under savagery and the law of the jungle!
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.