THE CURSE OF RIGHT AND WRONG
Many people treat ethics like a good set of dishes, something to be saved just for special occasions. A monitor poll shows that most Americans think that their country’s moral standards are falling and that stronger families must be the solution. Widespread evidence of moral decay can be found in nearly every American city.Things such as sleazy movies, vulgar TV shows, neglected children, and broken families are the type of things most people oppose.
In every major region in the country, a majority of people polled agreed that the Nations values have weakened since the 1950’s. That view is particularly evident in the South and West. However, there is evidence that shows morality could have also been a problem in our Nations history, especially in politics. President Thomas Jefferson faced longstanding rumors about sexual involvement with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. President Grover Cleveland laid to rest accusations about fathering an illegitimate child by taking responsibility for that child. In recent years politicians have been caught with prostitutes and survived. Others have admitted to infidelity and seen their political careers plummet. The fact that morality seems to be in decline may be, in large part, due to the media. Advancements in technology have made it possible for peoples lives to be quickly and more widely known; therefore, making the public more aware of what is happening.
When Americans look for something to blame for declining morals, they point straight at the media, particularly the entertainment media, and especially TV. Jason Sines of Chase, Md., says “the worst is television.” He notes that TV is readily available in the home, and harder to avoid. Other sources like magazines, movies and other media require a trip to the store or the theater. Sines views are widely shared. More than 3 out of 4 Americans say that the values portrayed on television are getting worse. Because of this, children are much more aware of things they shouldn’t know about until later in life.
“Effects of the ‘moral climate’ also show up with children, who often reflect both physical and emotional neglect,” says Ann Echard, a second grade teacher, “in part because their parents are struggling to keep their heads above the water, and in part simply because some parents are just being selfish.”
When Americans search for answers to moral problems, they often look to the family. In a survey, 71 percent said the family has “great influence” on the nations moral and ethical standards. Another 15 percent said the family has “moderate influence”. Ordinarily that might be a good thing, but 68 percent of those people surveyed also said that the family’s influence is on the decline. Other forces, like TV and the Internet, are taking over. One reason for the family losing its hold might be that because of financial trouble and more and more parents are struggling with multiple jobs.
Morality plays a part in all successful, sustained achievement. Unless man learns to control the sinner, the animal in himself, he can never release his full power for accomplishment. There are four basic causes for failure among people; they apply equally to the pursuit of success in any line of endeavor. They are: illicit sex, alcohol, deception, and stealing. If people can learn to stay away from things such as these it would make a lot less problems for them.
The problem is not that people are no longer able to distinguish between right and wrong; it is simply that they have just decided that it is much easier to avoid doing so. Jimmy Carter speculated that our moral decline began the day that John F. Kennedy was shot, and he was probably right. But there are probably millions of stories of personal moral decline where that person knows exactly where it began.
Most people recognize the moral and ethical components of dramatic issues like abortion and end-of-life medical decisions. Other questions like “Should I cheat on my spouse?” or “Should I rob a bank?” call for moral judgements, too, but the answers are so obvious for most people that they hardly think about them; it’s just whether or not they act on what they know is proper. Life-or-death issues, really important personal quandaries, and the discussion of professional philosophers should not be the only place that ethics belong. I think that they should be a part of our everyday decisions. It would cause a lot less problems and people would be happier overall.