You Can’t Have Your Cake…

Recently, there’s been quite a bit of outrage over the greed that corporations have shown, as well as over corrupt politicians (either selling senate seats or going on prolonged vacations to visit their mistresses in Argentina). This has led some to distrust the government. It has also led others to distrust corporations and capitalism in general. In order to solve these problems, many are turning to the government (which is ironic as it currently stands as the poster child for corruption). Insurance companies are greedy – at least in public opinion – thus we will turn to the government to fix these problems. Corporations are greedy, so we’ll have the government put regulations on them. Senators and representatives are greedy so we’ll just elect a president who says he’ll change it. The president’s administration has been shown to be greedy and corrupt, so we’ll just…grin and bear it?

But in all of this, there’s one simple truth that everyone is ignoring; it’s our own fault. What do I mean?

Since the 1960’s we’ve bred a culture that says, “Don’t you shove your morality/religion down my throat!” We’ve built a culture of tolerance, one in which moral values are cultural and personalized. Following in the words of Lyotard, we have lived lives of incredulity towards the metanarrative, the overall story. We’ve abandoned a belief in some overarching ethic that all people are accountable to. Much more, we’ve abandoned a belief in God, a God who will hold us accountable for the things we do, whether in this life or the next.

In place of absolute morality and God we have placed psychological morality (“be tolerant”) and Darwinian ethics (“survival of the fittest”). We tell people to do what makes them happy and advances them in life, so long as it doesn’t harm (or bring significant harm) to other people. The rule of tolerance (which is impossible to live by – one must be intolerant in order to enforce tolerance) contradicts survival of the fittest, leading to a very confused and backwards culture.

But this is beside the point. The fact is this; you reap what you sow. For over forty years we have been sowing the seeds of disbelief and skepticism towards God and morality. We are now reaping exactly what we should have expected: a narcissistic generation that is corrupt to the core, that views people as a means rather than an end, and that will stop at nothing to achieve material greatness.

When we look at the media arts, specifically television and “music,” what we see is a complete inundation of sexual content. It’s not just women that are treated like objects anymore; all humans are treated like objects. As the song “The Bad Touch” by the Bloodhound Gang says, “…we aint nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” When we treat human beings as nothing more than sex objects and that the more powerful you are the more sex you have, should we be all that surprised when we see congresspeople and governors engaging in sexually immoral behavior? More importantly, do we as a culture even hold the right to condemn such people?

Or what of corporate corruption and how they treat people? We teach our children that they have no purpose, that they have no value, and that they are nothing more than highly evolved animals. Without any of the prior beliefs, we have no foundation for a belief in value, not even a utilitarian belief (why should what we do matter if there’s ultimately no purpose or meaning in what we do?), so should it surprise us when CEO’s and corporations treat their workers as commodities?

This is the world without virtue ethics and without God. The world that we have come to hate, the one full of corruption and scandal, is the world we created by removing universal ethics and God. Under a virtue system of ethics, people who do the right thing rather than put themselves first (assuming they chose to follow the ethics). If an ethic was violated, then people would generally turn away from the violator. Under a belief in God, people would be more cautious about what goes on in “closed rooms,” for there is still One watching and judging.

Certainly there is more to this, but it gets the point across; our culture is corrupt because we have forgone morality. Until we begin to teach absolute morality again, until we begin to move back to a virtue based system and recognize God for who He is, we will suffer corruption and it will eventually lead to our collapse. We will one day return to virtue ethics; it will either be a result of our choice, thus securing our prosperity, or because we need it, after falling to our knees.