Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ethics in America

We have seen quite a few situations recently in which those in powerful and influential positions have abused the trust given to them. They have, at best, used poor judgment, and at worst, have committed criminal acts. I believe this is symptomatic of the attitude that many people have these days: “It’s all right as long as I don’t get caught.”

A few examples just off the top of my head:

Gov. Blagojevich of Illinois trying to “sell” a senate seat to the highest bidder.

Bernard Madoff and others like him whose Ponzi Schemes have hurt thousands of individuals and many charities.

The CEO of Peanut Company of America knowingly allowing tainted products to enter the food chain, then invoking The Fifth so he wouldn’t have to cooperate with a congressional inquiry.

All of the bank and other financial institution executives who used extremely poor judgment and excessive risk-taking that resulted in a collapse of the financial system, then rewarding themselves with big bonuses. And they’re still not in jail! Money talks – the criminal walks.

The various nominees for cabinet positions in President Obama’s administration who had tax “problems.” Is there an honest man or woman in Washington?

Former NY Gov. Spitzer’s indiscretions during his brief time in office. What an idiot!

The list goes on, and there are many more ethics violations that we don’t know about.
Kids cheat more than ever in school, from what I’ve been told.
People want to get paid “under the table” to avoid paying taxes. (I even had a guy interview for the custodian job at the church who wanted to be paid under the table! Hello!?)
People who work long enough to qualify for unemployment, get themselves fired, and then take a government-paid “vacation” until the money runs out.

What does all this mean? First, these transgressions demonstrate the innate sinfulness of mankind. We aren’t born “good” and then corrupted by a sinful culture, but we are born with a propensity to sin, and are further influenced by a sinful culture.

Second, it indicates that our society continues to deteriorate. As we push God to the margins of our society and regard church-going and religious education as irrelevant, this is what we get. Is this the kind of society we want our children to inherit?

Third, it is symptomatic of a society that hasn’t been trained in ethics, morals, and the Golden Rule. I don’t know if any of these people had much of a religious background, but I suspect they did not. If they did, it was weak, and they became easily influenced by the prevailing attitudes of our declining culture.

We need, in my opinion, to return to our Judeo-Christian roots when it comes to morals, ethics, and religious practice. Obviously society wouldn’t become perfect, but it would certainly be better than what we’re experiencing now. I fear for the future if current trends continue.

If you aren’t part of a church and your children aren’t receiving some sort of religious education, I encourage you to rethink your position. You’ll be helping yourself, giving your children the great gift of a moral compass, and you’ll be participating in the creation of a better society. As a parent, you can’t do it alone. Let the church come alongside to help reinforce what I hope you are teaching your kids.

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