Four events over the past week have made me think long and hard about the moral mess in which we find ourselves in this country.
First, there was the Hugo Awards debacle, in which two sides with widely differing opinions, having harangued each other for months, finally had at it in a no-holds-barred award ceremony that left one side triumphant - and the other infuriated and energized to come back at them even harder next year. There were, ultimately, no winners in the fight; only the guarantee that the Hugo Awards themselves would be the ultimate losers. Civility and common decency seemed to have vanished.
Second, there was the frantic effort to repair the damage done to Planned Parenthood's image over the recent undercover video scandal. The organization hastily commissioned its own investigation into the videos, which concluded - surprise, surprise! - that they'd been heavily edited and were unusable as evidence. As The Nation was quick to point out, "The forensic analysis should clarify that the scandal is not Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation for medical research. It’s the surreptitious campaign undertaken by CMP to attack the healthcare provider, possibly in collusion with some members of Congress." Nice to have no conscience in matters like this. Clearly, the dismemberment of just-aborted but still living children for their organs, for profit, is nothing to worry about.
Third, country musician Charlie Daniels wrote an open letter to the US Congress. Here's an excerpt.
Your ratings are in the single digits; your morals are in the gutter; your minds are on self-preservation; and somewhere along the way, you’ve traded your honor for political expediency.
You've violated your oaths; you've betrayed your country; you've feathered your nests; and you've sat on your hands while an imperial president has rubbed your noses in the dirt time after time.
You're no longer men. You're puppets, caricatures, jokes, a gaggle of fading prostitutes for sale to anybody who can do you a political favor.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
There's more at the link. It's worth reading it all.
Finally, following the tragic murder of a television journalist and cameraman in Virginia, Matt Walsh lays it on the line.
We look at the darkest, most disturbing actions carried out by the most hateful people, and rather than face the terrifying reality that, in fact, rational people choose to do evil, we retreat back into the comfortable fantasy that only crazy people do bad things.
We want to reduce everything to chemicals and neurology and synapses, but we leave no room for a man’s soul, his will, his desire, his choice. And what has that achieved? I suppose it’s achieved quite a bit, financially, for the pharmaceutical industry, yet the rest of us are still left to grapple with the hatred and despair they told us the pills would cure.
Of course, I don’t discount mental illness completely, nor do I suppose Flanagan would have checked all the boxes on a “mental health” checklist. Obviously, the man had “issues,” as they say. But my radical theory is that his deepest issues were spiritual. And the same could be said for all of us.
Flanagan grabbed that camera and that gun and shot two people in the head because he was consumed by his sin, and he was consumed by his sin because he chose to follow his bitterness, loathing, and contempt all the way down into the darkness, away from the light, away from God, away from Truth. He pushed God out and let evil in, and this is the result.
And there is something even beyond Flanagan and his individual choices. There isn’t any one person who caused this attack more directly than Flanagan himself, but our whole country, our culture, is in a desperate spiritual state. Spiritual health, not mental health, is the real crisis of our time.
We have rejected God as a country, and I believe we are seeing, every day, the hideous fruits of our godless civilization.
. . .
Once you take the first step — rejecting God, embracing evil — there is simply no telling what you’ll do next. That’s the horrifying truth. Time to face it.
Again, there's more at the link, and I recommend you read the entire article.
I entirely agree with Matt Walsh. What's more, I think you could apply his thesis to every single one of the four cases I've mentioned above. At the root of all of them is a turning away from any moral lodestone, any objective yardstick against which to measure our conduct as human beings. Once we remove that authority, that reference point - whether you wish to call it/him/her God or something else - we become anchorless, drifting at the mercy of the wind and the tide . . . neither of which is either moral or ethical.
I'm a man of faith. To me, the moral lodestone is God and His revealed will for us. Others of different faiths may disagree on precisely what that will might be; but there's a surprising amount of agreement between the great faiths on what constitutes moral conduct, so much so that all major religious and philosophical systems of thought more or less agree on the existence of the Golden Rule. The problem today is that many people are no longer exposed to these systems of thought, and/or are used to seeing them denigrated and 'dumbed down' in popular culture, to the point that they are no longer afforded any higher authority at all. They're just another human viewpoint. If that's the case, then they have no more validity than one's personal opinion - so why pay any attention to them?
The Bible tells us that God made us in His own image. Today, far too many of us have chosen to see God as no more than another human being. In so many words, we've reinvented Him in our image. Many people of (alleged) faith now honor the Ten Commandments and the Great Commandment more in the breach than in the observance. That failure compromises the moral authority of the Christian message as a whole. If people see Christians failing to practice the morality they preach, why should they pay any attention to the preachers?
For those who acknowledge no God, I'd like to suggest that religion nevertheless served at least some historical purpose by providing the moral framework for our system of laws. Now that the historical framework has broken down, what's to replace it? We still need a moral and ethical lodestone to guide our decision-making. If that's not of divine origin, what is it? I can't answer that question, so I'll leave it up to you.
Whatever the truth of the matter, I submit that the root of all the problems outlined above is that we've arrogated to ourselves, as individuals and as a society, the right to do as we please, without let or hindrance from any form of higher authority or ethical or moral norm. I believe that only when we turn away from that, and admit that such norms are, in fact, a necessity rather than an imposition, can we find ways to solve these problems and others. If we don't do that, the situation can only get worse.
What say you, dear readers? Let's hear from you in Comments.