Is there something wrong with the world, or its just me? This is the question we do keep asking ourselves when we fail to get answers to some of the most important questions of our time. It could be easy maybe for one who spent a semester studying ethics, but when you have class on Mondays and Fridays lunch, at least you are guaranteed of missing some! That’s me. But i think that the world seems to have messed a lot of things when it comes to questions related to ethics, and it becomes important that we redefine our ethical standards and some of the principles that guide our actions.
We find lots of theories that deal with ethics and the new cultural and theological developments are ushering in a new era, i would call an ethics free society where the line between good and bad is mostly obscure and truth is non-existent or defined by individuals. A new culture of being political correct is emerging instead of being morally correct and upright, and this has a major influence on how generations are being raised and the future of the world. At times people try to put things together and make the general assumption that all young people or millennials in this case have a linear thought on issues and have to be considered and treated as such, with the result being a turn of structures and systems in our society.
We messed up things, we messed the world and our ethics. What has gone wrong with society is that the more people were learning, some were becoming extremists in their tendencies leading to selfishness and misrepresentation of truth. We have reduced the most important questions of life to selfishness and the desire to be happy at all cost regardless of what that means to our society. Given that i am not an ethics expert, i will limit my thoughts to two fundamental aspects of ethics, truth and morality.
Just few weeks ago i engaged in intensive discussion with a friend who is undertaking a masters degree in history of culture and we asked ourselves one question. How do we ensure the truth is maintained amid cultural evolution? It’s a difficult question because we view and understand truth differently. One says truth is relative and other believes that truth is absolute. The post-modern culture informs us that truth is relative, what is true to you may not be true to me, differing from the experiences of society and beliefs of individuals as justified by evidences from studies and other things. That’s where things messed up. If truth is relative then there is no truth at all, but i refuse to believe that we live in a world where truth is absent. There is always something which is true and something which is wrong, but only that we reject some of these realities for the sake of comfort and the central belief of our exclusive independence from social norms.
In as much as we may have different ideological views, i think it still remains natural for us to view truth as absolute. If truth is absolute then what this means is that what is right in one society is right for all. It sounds weird but this is the reality exclusive of cultural and traditional views which define morality. Looking at a Christian perspective, God is true and men are filled with lies. We then need not to submit to the view that men are true and God is a lie because His word and ideas contradict scientific and historical developments.
When it comes to morality we do also view things differently. Our present society is one which is free of morality and we tend to justify this by referring to our human rights and values and individuals. We reduce morality to our personal convictions and in most cases reject community values and appreciation, especially in respect to tradition and historical heritage. What this implies is that what i think is right is right so long i can justify it with scientific evidence and narratives from history, so i can be right and the society is wrong. But how sustainable is this? There is nothing sustainable about reducing morality to our personal views, morality is defined by society and it should be positive and life-giving. It seeks for the common good and doesn’t separate itself from history and tradition, it rather finds answers from it. This type of tendency has led to extremist movements such as the femme, nudity movement and lots of crazy movements disturbing the normal flow of activities in our society.
Things have been messed and we got to fix the system on ethics. We can only fix it if we can come back to reason and at least put value to our humanity and heritage. Looking at it from a Christian perspective this means we ought to look at the centrality and supremacy of Christ above our ideals and perceptions, By the time we are able to view God as the ultimate truth and model of morality then we can fix things. Secondly being able to admit that we can be wrong and need to apologize and listen to others. We have become so arrogant that at times we fight for things in which we are intentionally and consciously wrong but never want to apologize or admit our human behavior and limitations. We can’t be right always and we need to always offer room for some kind of remedy.
Our present society is so filled with the need to be politically right and believe that life is all about me and not us and not even God. We view the world as a closed system where our happiness defines, we go to the exceptions and try to make a rule. We ought to fix our ethics at personal and collective level to ensure sustainability and continuity of humanity without a breach of conduct and standards which diminish our human value and question our relationship with others and society.
In Africa we have a popular definition of Ubuntu, which is spreading slowly and facing opposition from capitalism and post modernism, it basically says I am because We are. We are all tied together and inter-dependence is keeping our communities move ahead. Up until we come back to the senses and appreciate the unique dimension of our spirituality and personality, we will face challenges beyond reason. But ethics that value community life and welfare will move us forward.
Stay blessed, think a lot!