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The capacity for humanity to adapt to challenges is a remarkable and sometimes wonderfully inspiring thing. We see this as neighbors come together in a crisis to battle common challenges such as the Midwest floods or the California fires. Parents who face the heartache and disappointment of caring for a child with some type of physical and/or mental disability with a steely loving determination to do all they can to provide a nourishing and fulfilling environment in spite of the difficulty.

Our adaptability can also at times be a horribly despicable thing. Such was the case in depression-era Germany when economic desperation led to moral decay and abdication to a perversely despotic control. Likewise, the collapse of absolute control in what we used to call Yugoslavia has led to Nazi-like men-tal-i-ties.What we used to call immoral, barbaric and atrocious concepts and practices such as drug use, homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia are now the trendy acts of those sophisticates who insist they be accepted as necessary acts of liberation from worn-out phi-los-o-phies.

While contemplating our spotted past and contradictory nature, I wondered why it is that we, speaking collectively, seem to never learn to overcome our tendency for self-destruction. The best explanation I have is that we, along with our terrific ability to adapt, have an even greater ability to deny.

We elect people who speak rapturously of our inspired Bill of Rights and its insistence on the inalienability of rights such as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Then in the same breath, they ferociously insist on the right to kill the ones we don't want so that all children are "wanted" children.

We talk of world leadership and then cover our eyes as we slink away from the challenge of the evils in Bosnia. We speak forcefully of our commitment to justice and decency and then conveniently forget it was ever mentioned when faced with the fact that tyrants don't care about what we say.

We promote and defend evil and destructive practices in all forms of mass media and then scratch our collective heads in mock bewilderment as children are formed in the images we show them.

Until we are better at facing truth, I fear that our ability to adapt in the face of difficulty will always have a negative net direction. For this reason, more than anything else, I hope and pray that we will simply learn to be honest.

David Young