Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Crisis of Moral Authority

Calvin is worthy to be one of the Gods of today's world.
Now here's a chance to start your own cult from the comfort
of your own home!

"...our current society is moving toward a trend of accepting any moral behavior on the grounds of freedom of choice. It has become "politically incorrect" to speak up and call any social behavior immoral. In this way, I think we as a large society have truly lost our moral compass. If truth exists in this world, then it must be that some things are right, and some things are wrong, no matter how much society would like to accept them..."

The above comment was left on my previous post by a fellow LBC blogger Delirious and is the inspiration for this post. It made me think, one thing then led to another and here we have a post about the crisis of moral authority. What's that got to do with morality? Read on it may just click.

When we are young, everything we are taught and made to do is essentially to cultivate a very peculiar method of conforming to the authority. Authority in all its forms can be seen all around us, but the one I am interested in here for the purpose of this post is that of our role models. Most of us have role models, be they some highly successful people in our society or simply our parents or older siblings or neighbours. They are the ones we look up to, in times of crisis, we tend to think about what they would do in such a situation and because we inherently believe them to be right, we automatically believe that doing what they do will mean we've done the right thing.

My question is this, what standard should we use to judge our role models? If we were to follow in their footsteps and actually "be" right rather than just feel that we have done the right thing, then surely there must be a certain set of criteria they must fulfil to live up to this faith we place in them? Now what if our role models were wrong? We're in big trouble aren't we? Going back to the above comment, in this light it becomes clear that moral integrity is perhaps the most important attribute role models and those in the roles of authority must posses. How true is this in reality though? For someone from my generation, it would be quite obvious to feel our elders, those we looked up to, those with authority cannot be trusted. Why? Well, it was mainly the last 2-3 generations (those born after say 1940 in the West for the sake of argument) who created a lot of problems we face today. World War II, global warming, environmental disasters, selfish consumeristic behaviour, several economic depressions, these many things are scary enough to add any more to this list. How many of these were a result of a wrong choice made by those who could have prevented, averted or otherwise limited the extent of these problems? What made them choose, what hey chose?

I completely agree with Delirious, we as a society, have lost our moral compass. It is frowned upon to say freedom of choice must come with an awareness, acceptance, respect and practice of responsible and moral behaviour. Then there are those who feel morality is arbitrary. To them I say, if this is the case then there is no morality. However, we see several people behave morally too. This only proves that morality exists on the common foundations of truth, honesty and respect for everything and everyone around us. The way we perceive and practice it may differ. Just like the Sun's existence is an irrefutable truth. I from my garden see it up there and yellow, someone living on the top floor of a skyscraper sees it differently, a bird sees it differently still and for an astronaut in space it appears differently yet again. These different perceptions do not affect Sun's existence in anyway.

The point I am trying to make is simply this, the post above may appear as a rant against the others or blaming someone else. But if people from today's generation do not recognise this and change their behaviour, our children and grand-children will perhaps be harsher on us than we can be on our forefathers. They did what they did in the spur of the moment, and those of them who were wise didn't have the means to stop the problems from being created. We on the other hand not only recognise the problem, but also have powerful weapons such as the media and internet to make a bigger difference. If we don't walk the walk, then we would become what some say morally bankrupt.

Everything rests on truth, and its not the truth itself that changes, its only the way we perceive it. So the sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can start getting out of the mess. Or be prepared to be pushed into crap by some believer of "end justifies the means".


Anonymous said...

Delerious's comments strike a chord with me too.
Perhaps the way of applying them is to come up with as narrow as possible a core of absolutes. So, for instance, for me FGM would be unacceptable behaviour, regardless of any special cultural pleading or relativism.
It begins to get tricky once the number of inclusions on the list grows.

Anonymous said...

By the way - welcome back. I've added a link.

Nukul Chopra said...

Moral Responsibility, Integrity, Thinking & Acting Wisely, Caring for Society...Indeed are really important. However, the irony of the truth is that people are aware of it but fail to act upon it (yes including myself). As you rightly mentioned, seed we sow would most certainly impact the crop. Unfortunately, world have become full of materialistic things and we, people, are too busy chasing it that we hardly care about the future, the generation and most importantly repercussions. Of course, I am not trying to escape by blaming others. Do you remember our argument about child labor? I still think that I should start doing something about it but fail to act. Besides, I am still unsure if society cares about the path you chose and what really matters is Achievement. Perhaps, is the reason we end up following immoral role models. That being said, your blog once again provoked my thoughts and made me think about my act Actions, Responsibility and Integrity. To which I Salute!!!