Here we are in the middle of January. We've already watched several months of campaigning, and there are still 10 months until election.

Where, with all of the turmoil and strong feelings, are we headed? I am reminded of some information which I first became acquainted with a few years ago and which keeps coming to my attention through my reading. The question: "How long do we have?"

According to this information, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, said: "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

Tyler also said, "The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those, those nations always progressed through the following sequence."

He then goes on to give eight steps:

Step one is "from bondage to spiritual faith." Our history tells of the persecution of the Pilgrims and their coming to America to practice their religious beliefs. Daniel Webster, in 1820, said, "Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits. What makes men good Christians makes them good citizens."

Step two is "from spiritual faith to great courage." This brings to mind the many efforts which led to the Revolutionary War and the separation of America from England.

Step three is "from courage to liberty." We must remember Patrick Henry's well-known statement during this period: "Give me liberty or give me death." A study of history would show how much it cost in lives to demonstrate the courage it took to achieve liberty.

Step four is "from liberty to abundance." Americans enjoy an abundance of wealth and property that is inconceivable to much of the world. But abundance is not only measured in wealth and items but also in the liberties we enjoy.

Step five is "from abundance to complacency." I believe we can say that, as a people, "We don't need to worry because everything is going to be all right."

Step six is "from complacency to apathy." How many people do you know who are willing to stand up and fight? "Why should I be concerned?" "What can I do about it?" "Why should I vote?"

Step seven is "from apathy to dependence." Do we have people today who depend on "their being supported by others or by the government? If so, how many of our people have this feeling?"

Step eight is scary. It is "from dependence back into bondage."

Do you give credence to the above information? Do you believe it? If so, where are we now in process through these steps? Whether you buy these steps or not, it does give us reason to think seriously about them. It seems we need to be aware of what is going on in society and be more active in our study of what is happening.

We have an election coming up this November. Take time to do your own thinking. Study for yourself what is the correct thing to do. I don't believe everything being told to us by the media, do you?

If we are where I believe we are on the eight steps, we need to be alert and careful.

Arris Johnson is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.