"He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." Proverbs 25:28
As I survey the wreckage of this past election, one trait stands out: discipline and its role in delayed gratification. America's population has become less disciplined over the past 50 years. Lack of discipline helps explain the current crisis.
Discipline links our fiscal problems with our culture. Successful societies delay gratification, which requires discipline. Over the past 50 years, America has shifted from a culture of delayed to instant gratification.
I've written before about how sexual temptation undermines discipline. This isn't new. A society that doesn't discipline the pursuit of orgasms won't discipline much else.
Discipline also helps explain our economic problems. Our culture of instant gratification was a primary driver of the 2008 financial market crisis. You can observe a similar phenomenon in the explosion of consumer debt the past few decades.
Personal success requires discipline and delayed gratification. Societies that esteem these traits flourish. Unfortunately, the United States in 2012 no longer seems to value either.