Have you adjusted your morality lately?
By Joe America
“Have you adjusted your morality lately?”
I had to ask myself this question when a self-confessed amoral reader said there is nothing wrong with being moral, but imposing one’s values on others, especially with a scornful sneer at them, is wrong.
Well, sure, being disrespectful is wrong if one’s moral bearing emphasizes kindness. But why should one not criticize? Allowing bad behavior to persist would be wrong . . . and unkind . . . it seems to me.
Inquiring minds are also inclined to ask by what rules someone who is amoral can tell a moralist what to do? Isn’t that a moral judgment?
Anyway, all that got me thinking about morality and how the world is changing fast, and our moral foundations are under attack.
Morality represents the fundamental beliefs that anchor our behaviors, ethical standards, and laws. Respect for elders is one of the moral center posts of Philippine social rules. It is reflected in blessings the young give elders, and in laws that mandate that sons and daughters take care of their parents. There are a lot of other codified behaviors in the Philippines that are unique to the nation’s convoluted history. Deeply entrenched superior/subordinate roles is another example, typified by star worship, white idolatry, impunity, rote learning, and deferential obedience to those in power (thanks to blogger/contributor Irineo B. R. Salazar for his enlightenments on this subject).
Western nations typically are anchored on Judaeo-Christian values. US values for sure emerged from the Bible. Eastern nations are more cerebral, I think, and drift in some respects toward amoral rules not anchored on religious beliefs. The Philippines is a concoction of Western rules, Eastern ethics, and tribal/clan traditions.
Interestingly, it seems hard to find any anchor values in China’s behavior other than self advantage without regard for other nations and peoples, and even without regard for citizen well-being (national economic enrichment has a higher priority than clean air).
Well, commercialism has warped a lot of worldly values, even in the US. Political candidates sell their souls to campaign donors and corporations that fund their campaigns. Democratic ideals are under attack, and eroding.
Social media also contribute to warped values. People have set aside their religious faith, and a lot of other traditional values, in favor of online performances on Facebook, Twitter, Pininterest, Linked-In, or others. The entire world has been shrunk and put onto these social stages. We are oddly both the audience and the star as we relish all the emotions, addictions, and patterns that accompany our stardom there.
For many of us, the whole world has recently become morally chaotic, or confused, or lunatic in ways that we are just beginning to understand.
We have learned that change can be abrupt. Both the Philippines and US have willingly elected presidents who display grand amoral behaviors, stepping away from Christian-based diplomacy and toward crude, autocratic ways that seem anchored to little more than getting a rise from the popular following that put them into high office. Or getting a rise from vested interests.
Both Presidents Duterte and Trump feel affinity for Russia, and that is not an accident. Is there a more amoral leader around than Russia’s President Putin? All three larger-than life men have no trouble speaking in ways that depart from knowledge in favor of expedience. I would call them liars, but my Judaeo-Christian upbringing nags at me if I am unnecessarily disparaging toward a duly elected head of state. I would also call them mean of spirit.
My guess is that President Duterte is already finding Chinese leaders overbearing, and President Putin is somehow more respectful, as one Mafia boss bestows favors on another. China makes too much like the Godfather of all bosses, and that can crimp an autocrat’s style.
The great Filipino masses, mostly Christian and Muslim by faith, are evidently satisfied with an amoral, autocratic President who has thrown convention to the typhoons. We can conclude that their needs and angers outweigh whatever it is that their priests, ministers, and imams are busy preaching. It seems like the preaching has been reduced to platitudes easily ignored, as we can see in the profound lack of commitment to faith’s moral rules.
I mean, they are satisfied with State-sanctioned murder? The fact that over 6,000 innocent Filipinos are dead fails to get their moral knickers in a bunch? Lies and manipulations and mean-spirited attacks on people of integrity are now GOOD THINGS in the Philippine moral code?
Incredible. And packs of scurrilous, unprincipled amoralists claim we moralists are wrong to complain about these matters.
What SHOULD our moral anchors be today, given that the two giant moral institutions of democracy and the churches have proved themselves impotent?
A reader of the blog dropped off a simple and powerful message that does point us in what I think is a superb direction. Contributor “gerverg1885” wrote:
This army of trolls thinks it will eventually bring the needful to their level and win on their turf but anger and hatred and other such negative emotions do not last long because each individual’s main goal in life is joy and peace.
So I am telling friends and relatives that:
Angry people are sad people
Hateful people are sad people
Vengeful people are sad people
Unforgiving people are sad people
Impatient people are sad people
Ungrateful people are sad people
Lying people are sad people
Envious people are sad people
And nobody could be joyful and peaceful while in a constant state of anger, hatred, revenge, unforgiveness, impatience, ungratefulness, lies and envy.
That is a powerful statement, expressed in the negative as a wake-up call. It makes me realize how dark a place social media can be. Gerverg1885 also helps me grasp that human compassion is a wonderful thing to behold, and human hostility and crass showmanship are very tiresome.
So in answer to the question posed in the blog title, no, I have not adjusted my morality. But for sure, I am concerned about the deterioration of democracy and intrusions of social media into our behaviors and relationships. I think it is important to hold firm to basic values and use them to promote “best practices” in democracy and keep the social media dialogue forthright, honest, and compassionate. Life itself is a dialogue, and there need to be standards.
Whatever moral anchors we each decide to submit to, I’d suggest we include among them:
A great appreciation for knowledge because it leads to the best decisions.
A deep commitment to democracy for the equality, inclusion and fairness it represents.
Generous amounts of human compassion for the spiritual uplift and goodness that comes with caring.
Active advocacy to stop practices that are anti-knowledge, anti-democracy, and anti-compassion.
It seems to me that these anchors will allow us to cleanse our souls of dark passions, search for wholesome ways to move forward as a union, and sing with a joy sure to please God . . . or reason.
I also suggest we grant no quarter to manipulative amoralists who lecture us on right and wrong in order to keep us quiet. They are obviously game-players. A truly amoral person would welcome open discussion, not moralize it shut.