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For several years, the Gallup organization has been monitoring and measuring morality in our country. One glaring statistic always jumps out at me, specifically Americans believe morality is in decline and our values are changing. There may be several causes for this, such as the decline of organized religion, the influence of the media, and the decline of parenting. This has resulted in a new period of unrest where riots, violent protests, and a general disrespect for the law has become commonplace.
The question is, are we doing enough to promote morality in this country? The answer is simple, No. When I was performing research for my book, “Stand Up for MORALITY,” I found there were very few people addressing the problem. I found the New Zealand police trying to teach it, as well as the Israeli military, but aside from organized religion, I found very little in terms of addressing morality in this country as well as others.
There are essentially two elements for an individual’s judgement. First, our perceptions perform an essential role, such as our sense of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. If we do not perceive a situation correctly, we are likely to arrive at an erroneous conclusion. As a veteran systems man, I can assure you, if the input is wrong, everthing that ensues will be wrong. Consequently, people tend to act on impulse as opposed to dissecting a situation correctly.
The second element, is our interpretation of right and wrong, representing our moral judgement. Based on our perceptions, we then calculate what we believe to be a proper course of action which is ultimately based on our values, such as:
* Implementation of the Golden Rule; do we want to do unto others, as we want others do unto us, or are we contrary and self-absorbed, only doing what is best for ourselves?
* Do we believe violence of any kind, be it murder, rape, muggings, is a proper way to socialize?
* Do we believe theft is justified based on our socioeconomic condition? For example, is looting and theft acceptable for the poor and disadvantaged, as opposed to working to obtain property?
These two elements, perceptions and values, is the basis for our morality. Our sense of society is ultimately based on finding commonality in moral values. It’s a “Birds of a feather” phenomenon whereby we cooperate with people who share our beliefs, and resist those who do not. If all of us possessed incompatible values and perceptions, chaos will ensue. In the past, consistent moral values were taught by organized religion, but as the concept of God has diminished, inconsistent interpretations emerge.
Since organized religion is in retreat, where should we seek our values? I do not believe the government should be the source of dogma, but it would be nice if they could devise a program to promote moral principles. I am certainly not suggesting a marriage of church and state, but rather an institution concerned with funding ethical practices.
I tend to believe nonprofit organizations have a role to play, such as civic organizations who preach patriotism and fair play, be it in Scouting, organized youth sports, the Rotary, Lions, and fraternal organizations, particulary the Masons, Oddfellows, and Knights of Columbus. If such groups opened their doors to discuss morality, or made an effort to recognize moral behavior, they can go a long way to changing the public’s sense of right and wrong.
Business can play a role within their organizations by establishing a code of conduct and strictly enforcing it. After all, there is little point in creating legislation if there is nobody to enforce it.
Finally, something has to be done about rating Hollywood movies and television shows. If aliens are monitoring our airwaves, they probably believe we have a propensity for violence, our sense of comedy is crude, we are narcissistic and resist cooperation, and are bent on the destruction of our own species. No wonder they don’t want to land here!
However, if we were to focus on promoting moral behavior, we would likely experience less crime and violence, representing a decline in costs, and we could begin to rebuild our country cooperatively.
Then again, maybe I’m just naive in the country’s desire to get along.
Keep the Faith!