I don’t know why I am surprised, but I am. In the wake of the tragic Florida school shootings, I thought we would allow a period of time so that the victims would know that as a nation we sympathize with them, but this has not been the case.
Very quickly the tragedy has become a political issue with demonstrations against gun violence and advocating for more gun control. Anyone who did not view the massacre from the vantage point of yet another anecdote of why guns should be banned seemed to be labeled as, at best, negligent, and far more often, heartless, selfish, and evil.
But the point of this article is not so much to argue one view or another. Rather, it is observing how we are now in an age where it seems that one’s political beliefs are the barometer of a “new morality.”
Have you not noticed that, especially within the past decade, there have been leaps to culturally transform what was understood as the most elemental aspects of our society ranging from constitutional rights, demographic identity, to the very meaning of equality, fairness, and responsibility?
In all these areas, this “new morality” demands that contrary thoughts and ideas be banished from civil society, and societal bullying should suppress and oppress any expression of these thoughts at every turn.
I use the term “new morality” because morality used to be measured by the internal thoughts and outward actions we commit. If my thoughts and actions towards others were generally kind, and I followed the law to the best of my knowledge, I could be considered a decent person.
Today, this is not the case. I can be a decent person, but if I have the “wrong” political beliefs, then I am an uncaring and bad person.
Conversely, I could be generally mean or aloof with people, or privately engage in addictive or selfish behaviors, but strongly advocate for the politically correct sociopolitical positions, then I would be considered a moral and globally conscientious person.
I have a former colleague who is a founder of an orphanage in Africa. He constantly advocates for learners who are disabled within the workplace but shared that he feels like he cannot share conservative views because he would be labeled as “heartless.”
Such viewpoints would be dismissed outright, because he’s a white male, and yet he’s one of the most decent men I’ve ever worked with.
There is something truly distorted about how a “new morality” measures the benevolence of a person based on their politics and disregards their actual behavior.
How have one’s sociopolitical positions become the measure of morality?
I would posit that as our leading industries —whether, for example, the media, government, or even the church — have become secularized, they have not become ethically neutral when it comes to religious or traditional values but are increasingly — and openly — hostile and oppressive of it.
Such actions help to remove any objective framework to which citizens would hold themselves. Transcendent standards of morality, which have their roots in religious values, are being replaced by sociopolitical constructs that continually change and are advanced by the social and intellectual influencers.
And to believe these sociopolitical positions is considered “progressive,” while anything traditional or religious is considered outdated, unsophisticated, and ignorant.
But once morality is no longer based on transcendent principles, but on this intolerant tolerance, societal morality will continually be redefined, and the culture will devolve.
Malcolm Muggeridge, a famous British journalist, once said, “The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality, but at the same time the most intellectually resisted.”
So, those who see the new progressive morality as an evolutionary step in our society resist the evidence of distrust, stress, anxiety, anger, violence, addictions, marital betrayals, political corruption, corporate greed, marketing manipulations, and on and on and on, that seem to exist at levels, and at a rate, greater than ever before in our society.
And those who are suffering most because of this “new morality” are our children, for the levels of psychological disorders being experienced by them is unprecedented. Our children are under greater psychological pressure, not because they are faced with more significant challenges in life. Our ancestors faced far greater challenges than we do today.
Rather, they are inundated with the pressures and politics of the world through social media and various technologies that tells them they must act, they must get involved, they must care, they must make a difference — otherwise life as they know it, will, literally, cease to exist. These media validate, reinforce, and intensify their “new morality.” Any parent who has ever tried to take away their child’s cell phone knows what I am talking about.
This is the pressure many of the students who are petitioning our politicians for stricter gun laws are feeling. This is the pressure younger generations feel as they participate in hashtag campaigns and join online, civic causes — voicing their opinions (the new morality) without seemingly considering practical implications.
But how in the world are we to respond to this culture of two competing moralities vying for the soul of our nation and the next generation?
Interestingly, the same colleague who is “silenced” at work was developing courses on a diversity training and said, “You know, if we simply did unto others as we would have them do unto us, we could save employees hours of diversity training.”
Many people view themselves as unique, even though they may be a part of a group, and no one likes to be stereotyped, labeled, or disrespected.
Our society would do well not to march into a “new morality,” but hearken back to the one established by the golden rule.
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville with her husband and their five children.]