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Society and Morals, Perceptions

  I deliberately wrote my previous post on the use of aborted baby tissue to test soft drink flavor enhancers in a low key without the outrage I actually felt to see what kind of response, if any, I would get. The response was at best tepid and limited to a very few commenters, two of whom always find something to criticize in my writing. Some mocked my position, something I'm used to; others posed hypothetical boycott scenarios, as though that were the main point of the post (which it was not!). No-one expressed any real concern over the issue of desecration of aborted babies and the commercialization of this heinous practice.

For me, and for others--not apparently readers of this blog--abortion is a very emotional issue for reasons that I think are well known. Yet, no one at all seemed to think the crass commercial use of parts of an aborted baby was much of a deal. The reason, I think, relates to a larger problem in our society today.

It is almost universally asserted that abortion is a very complex issue. In truth, we are told by politicians, ethicists, scientists, the media and academia that most major issues facing society are complex, often too much so for us poor common folk to understand. I maintain that this is a ploy to gather power into the hands of government and others in positions of authority or influence, and to convince us that we need them to guide our thinking. The fact is, most issues facing society are actually relatively simple if one addresses them objectively without intimidation.

Just look around you at the major issues facing us (other than political campaigns that are totally built on lies.) Global warming: too complex for you to understand so take the word of the experts. Poverty: too complex to understand the social scientists (and politicians, the experts on everything) tell us, so leave it to them to propose solutions, e.g. the "Great Society." Wars in general have causes too complex for us so trust the politicians who start them to make the decisions, lately without even Congressional sanction. Abortion: it's a complex issue so let medical authorities, social scientists, activist judges and Planned Parenthood/NARAL set the policy.

I am not going to propose the "simple solutions" to these issues and others like them, which would lead me far afield. The fact is this concept of unfathomable complexity has two very unfortunate consequences to our society. One, it creates the environment for a class of self-styled experts and "folks smarter than us" to whom we must turn for guidance. This elite class then sets the moral and ethical climate for society. In effect, tells us common folk what to think.

The reason this tactic succeeds is to a great extent the minimization of morality and ethics. Morality has become relative, which essentially downgrades it to a preference instead of a guide. Without the guide of a fixed set of moral principles we are left to look outward for guidance in difficult issues. So we let others define ethics and morality instead of the historic Judeo-Christian ethic that we used to have.

This largely started, as I recall, after World War II in the late 1940's and early 50's. A major impetus was something called "the Playboy Philosophy" as promoted by Hugh Hefner and his very successful soft-porn magazine. The Playboy philosophy basically advocated the unbridled pursuit of pleasure without regard to the moral standards of the time. "If it feels good, do it." I remember this time quite well and assure you Hefner's influence was major, notwithstanding that today this senile old fool is a late-night joke.

Human beings do not like to be told what they should not/cannot do. Hefner opened the floodgates of baser instincts and the concept of universal moral principles was left broken in the dust. This hedonism expanded into the "let it all hang out" philosophy of the 60's, which persists in a somewhat muted form today. Hence, morality and its handmaiden, ethics, died and our society was left morally adrift and bankrupt, as it is to this day.

The second consequence of the abdication of moral self-discipline by society is that it fosters avoidance of responsibility, a hiding place. If we do not have the societal tools to deal with moral issues and leave the decisions and policy to others wiser than us, then we don't have to be concerned with what others do so long as it does not affect us directly. After all, morality is relative so who are we to judge? Anyway, stuff like that is too difficult to deal with and we're busy indulging in--in the words of the old Pete Seeger folk song--"The mania for owning things."

So, when we are faced with the issue of trivial commercialization of aborted baby parts, we don't have to be concerned. After all, it happened to maybe only one baby and it was decades ago. Anyway, we harvest organs from donors, don't we? What's the difference? The difference is an organ donor makes a conscious decision to donate his body parts after death. The aborted baby did not have the chance to make a decision. That's called desecration. But then, that's a moral judgement and we don't do that anymore, do we?

The net result of all this is an inward focus on material things and personal gratification/pleasure. Oh, we talk the good game of concern for our fellow man, but it's just talk, the more abstract the better. Why should we be concerned? The elitists who have taken over our moral conscience will take care of the problem so we don't have to be bothered. Even those few of us who volunteer for the public good often do so for ulterior reasons. I know some folks who volunteer at a soup kitchen or the like; they always find a way to let others know of their compassion. Sports figures show up at hospitals to visit sick kids, but always with news cameras along. Others sponsor charitable events, also with attendant news coverage.

There is one exception I know of that's worth mentioning. George and Laura Bush frequently show up at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to personally greet troops returning from Southwest Asia. George shakes their hand and Laura hugs them. There are no news cameras or other news coverage. There is one camera, but it is for the purpose of providing memento photos to the troops.

What is missing from society today is judgement based on essential moral and ethical principles. We view events from a distance, read about them in the paper or see them on TV, and perhaps even express some anger or shock, but in truth we really don't care, at least not after 24 hours. So, bad stuff happens and we are indifferent. Even the Tea Party movement is concerned primarily with their pocketbooks, not morality and ethics. And politicians?--forget it!

Sadly, many of us really don't care what happens to people outside of our personal circle. When unborn babies are killed by the millions, we say, "Oh, we're against abortion, but it's such a complex problem." And when a company uses kidney tissue harvested from a baby aborted three years prior to Roe v. Wade to test soft drink additives, we can't find it within ourselves to condemn this practice.

So, continue on your merry way, folks. Worry about your 401K and that roof leak. Don't bother going to church but be sure to claim a religious affiliation. Over 90% of Americans profess a religious belief but only 17% attend church or synagogue, so you're in good company. Heaven forbid God should enter the picture.

Profess compassion and concern, but don't miss that Brewers game!  Leave the sticky stuff to others better equipped to handle these complex issues. Enjoy your things: your ATVs, your snowmobiles, your RV, your boat(s), your vintage Corvette, your Beemer and all those other toys stuffed in your 5-car garage complex. Above all, don't be judgmental because morality is relative and ethics are situational.

After all, it was just one baby.

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