The argument is not about politics or civility, it’s about morality, plain and simple
today at 8:00 am
Our generation was brought up with The Golden Rule. We didn’t need a metaphysical debate on the fundamental nature of reality and the relationship between mind and matter – it was a simple question of right and wrong, the basic principle of good and bad behavior, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
For the length of my life, the country followed a system of values and principles of conduct that transcended time and culture; morality was universally accepted as ‘fair-mindedness,’ a commonsense conclusion as to behavior that was right and acceptable.
Society agreed, it was wrong to lie and cheat, it was right to lend a helping hand.
While morality itself is not fixed and unchanging, the country’s values seemed to be strong and secure. A divisive elitism undeniably existed, but, social egalitarianism, or what we called democracy, was the goal if not the prevailing ethos.**
The accepted moral standard was the glue that kept our society together. Historically it enabled the country to get through the depression, motivated participation in WWII and set precedent for the peaceful accession to office for 44 presidents, Washington to Obama.
With an accepted benchmark for right versus wrong, there was a track for social advancement, and perhaps most important, a civil process for resolving conflicts of interest in fair and orderly fashion. (the concept was uncomplicated: evaluate the facts and reward the good and punish the guilty as a matter of procedure).
But alas, I say again, morality is not unchanging! Its definition is derived from societal values as of a point in time… and this is the time of Donald Trump… and fake news and “it’s a hoax,” and over 19,000 blatant lies during his time in office.
I strongly doubt if the boorish Trump knows anything about Metaethical Moral Relativism but he sure as hell is practicing it! (Metaethical Moral Relativism: (MMR). The truth or falsity of moral judgments, or their justification, is not absolute or universal, but is relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of a group of persons.)
“Practices of a group of persons;” the Trump-approved groups such as the Proud Boys – Hitler Youth come to life again – White Supremacists and QAnon conspiracy theorists alleging that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring plotting against President Donald Trump, who is battling them, leading to a “day of reckoning” involving the mass arrest of journalists and politicians.
If a growing segment of the populace adopts a new definition of what is Right and what is Wrong as the standard of our country’s morality, we may be at the beginning of the end of civilized society! If as so many now insist, The Golden Rule is merely propaganda left over from the Obama administration, if in fact our country is no longer able to judge what is morally right and wrong, then my dire warning cannot be ignored.
I’m not an egghead. I struggle with comprehending Absolutism and Universalism and Relativism, but surely morality is more than an abstract concept! C’mon, we know right from wrong!
If the decline of morality as Americans defined it for over a century, continues, our Democracy is in serious danger and life as most of us live it, is imperiled.
Morality, not politics, is on the ballot November 3rd.
** Regretfully, for white America only. This post ignores the systemic racism set firmly in place by the sin of slavery. No reference to the country’s moral fiber can blithely disregard the evocation, Black Lives Matter. I do so in the context of making a point about the Trump administration’s assault on the norms that are the foundation of democracy.