We are witnessing in our society a lack of moral consciousness. It would appear that our civilization has peaked out as it relates to reaching its maximum height or cultural apex as a "civilized" society. Some say what we are witnessing is just the normal cycle that all civilizations go through. There is a rise and there is a fall. If we review history, at least the history that we have been taught, the Western civilizations, we will verify that phenomenon. We are on a decline. Some have said and are saying, it is prophesy being fulfilled. Whatever causes the decline, and I believe that many of us are conscious of the causes, we need not assume a cynical or fatalistic posture. For those who read the Bible, they will recall that there have been instances that the downward spiral was reversed, not that often, but it is possible. I am counting on that possibility, and that is the reason I am sounding this alarm. It is later than we realize. There is hope for those who do the right thing, and we all know what is the right thing for us. We all have an inner compass.
Faith is very important in our lives. Faith produces hope and hope is nourished with love, which is protected by justice. If we accept the premise that we are at least dual beings encompassing the physical and the material, then what I am stating here will make sense to you. I am not referring to any religious dogma, only the realization that we are more than the corporal that we see, that we are basically moral beings with a free will to choose our own destiny, a great responsibility. Religion has helped us develop codes of ethics that have been the underpinning of our civilization, as we know it today. We can acknowledge the fact that there are persons with a high moral standard and practices that are not religious. Then there are religious persons with a questionable moral standard and practices. What am I attempting to point out here? That religion is not the only source of moral principles. There is philosophy, the field of philosophy that addresses morality is ethics.
In most societies, if not in all, there are defined classes. We find classes in the animal kingdom, in zoology, of which we are a part as homo sapiens and we find them in other classes of animals, even amongst insects. Just look at the ants and others, each class has their function in the particular society. So when that concept of a classless society was promoted it was bound to fail because it was against the natural order of things in this world and maybe in the universe. Class has its place in any well-organized society; it is neither immoral nor illegal. What is immoral is the unjust treatment, the injustices committed between classes because of prejudice. Of course injustices are committed within the same classes in human societies. So what is purpose of this intellectual exercise? I am inviting you to reason with me, to see if we can arrive at root causes of our current decadence as a society. There are cultural features that influences behavior that distinguishes societies, that makes them different in certain ways. But then there are some absolutes, some universal moral precepts that can be found in most if not in all societies of this world.
Whether we use religious precepts or ethical precepts as our moral guide, once we subscribe to the precepts, we are expected to be guided thereby, and our behavior should reflect those principles. Many of these moral principles are made into laws that govern our society. Many times when a person violates a law they may also be violating a moral precept. When a person steals, assaults another, bears false witness, lies, rapes, murders, they are all violations of law and our moral precepts. Parents have a moral and legal duty to provide for their offspring, physically and morally.
When parents fail to fulfill their responsibility to their children they also fail in their responsibility to society. It is incumbent on the society to address the failure of the parents in a proactive way.
There are laws that address parental neglect and abuse. But we as a society have been derelict in enforcing the laws relating to parental neglect except in extreme cases. That is a flaw of our society that is one of the root causes of our present decay in our society. We really do not have a genuine elite class in our society. An elite class that sets the social, moral and intellectual pace of our society. We have been electing persons with questionable moral standards. We have been allowing politicians and others to promote low standards, mediocrity in our society. Because of their lack of self-discipline, they attempt to and many times succeed in bringing the standard down to a level that is comfortable for them.
I believe we need a moral rearmament, where we recapture the values that distinguished us at one time as a decent and civilized society. We need to identify individuals who exemplifies the moral standard we subscribe to, persons with integrity, vision and courage to represent us in government. We need to begin to promote social, economical and political justice. We need to respect and obey our own laws and enforce them without fear or favor, justly. We need acknowledge that each individual has rights and responsibilities within our society. We need to afford each person, particularly the most vulnerable, and the opportunity to develop their individual potentials to lead meaningful and productive lives. We need to recognize that genuine classes exist within our society without restricting upward or lateral mobility. We need to promote self-discipline and tolerance. We need to promote self-appreciation and love for one another, regardless of natural or artificial differences. We need to identify with God's love and submit to His laws and do His will here on earth.
J. J. Estemac
St. Thomas, V.I.
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