How do we measure what we’ve lost? Some losses are easy to document. There are a sundry of devices to indicate change, level, quantity, intensity or amount in both relative and precise degrees. Tangibles are readily measured: weight, temperature, consumption, calories, blood pressure, distance and time—a lengthy menu. But how are intangibles measured? Intangibles are the life-affecting elements that have no physical properties. How is the loss of a loved one measured, personal sadness, sorrow, joy, happiness?
What instruments are available to measure emotional devastation and damage that occurs within us? How do we measure the erosion of moral standards, of spiritual apathy? What marking system is there to note the quantity and quality of personal character: what level of trust, honor, respect and responsibility is present at any given time? If we are a “quart low” in trust, where do we go for needed replenishment? How do we know when our moral filter needs cleaning or replacement?
As a Nation, we’ve let so much slip away over the years we struggle to understand meaning, purpose and direction. Consider the civic carnage: loss of allegiance to democratic ideals, deterioration of work ethic, absence of attention to detail, flippant attitude toward commitment, disregard for the sacredness of life, and cavalier dedication to duty.
How to we measure the loss of missed opportunities to be kinder, more thoughtful, generous, understanding and charitable? How do we measure the degree of damage done to neglected and abused children? In the arena of political, social, religious and civic endeavors we tacitly accept, tolerate, and justify shoddy performance at all levels. If we could definitively measure these detrimental elements we could demand more accountability, and employ effective remedies. Loss seems so final. Gone. Never again. Remember as kids we used days as if there was an unlimited supply. We realize, as adults, that each day reduces the number by one. Now, we make a conscious effort to put every minute to good use and not waste precious moments. How do we measure the loss of childhood innocence and wonder? How is the erosion of imagination, inquisitiveness, and exploration measured? One needs to know the severity of loss in order to apply appropriate strategies
How do we measure the loss of security and safety at home, school, work and play? How do we measure the impact of violence in our daily lives? What magnitude of fear causes people to withdraw, retreat, and give up?
How do we measure the loss of faith in our politicians, clergy, government and ourselves? What scale of loss illustrates the damage of corruption? What definitive instrument is there to assess rampant greed, selfishness, immorality, and evil? What criterion is there that clearly shows the wear and tear on the human spirit?
Many go about their daily routine insulated from such concerns as if they do not exist. Others justify their ambivalence because such concerns do not apply or affect them. Humans readily learn selective blindness and selective deafness—doing so prevents the cognitive intrusion of uncomfortable circumstances, and keeps one’s conscious awareness tranquil and unruffled. But time is running out. The ideals and values that serve as the bedrock of The United States: government, schools, society and ourselves are being challenged and threatened. There is so much that needs to be done and the work must begin with each of us. Now is not the time to shrink from responsibility. Now is the time to become involved measuring what we’ve lost and begin remediating the deficits. To quote a famous line: “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”