09 April 2008

Moral regeneration, degeneration, confusion

There is much talk of the need for moral regneration. There is much talk of the need for values.

But it also seems that while many people agree that there is a need for values, they can't agree on what those values are, and are determined to force other people to conform to their values rather than find what values they share in common, and agree to work together to promote those, and agree to disagree about the ones they don't share.

There have been some examples in the news lately, and various people have blogged about them as well, including me.

Let's start with the need for values.

Christian values only thing holding Britain together, says Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor:
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, on Monday said that “Judeo-Christian values” were the only thing holding British society together, the Guardian reports...

"People are looking for a common good in this country. A very large number of people are saying, 'What is it that binds British people together?'" Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said. “There is no other heritage than the Judaeo-Christian heritage in this country." Replacing that heritage with a “totally secular view of life,” the cardinal said, would lead the nation down “a very dangerous path.”


Let's leave aside for the moment the fact that many Jews find the "Judeo-Christian" epithet pretty offensive, regarding it as an attempt by Christians to co-opt them willy-nilly as part of a Christian agenda. Let's look at the British "Judaeo-Christian heritage". I can't remember when it was that Jews got the vote in Britain, but I think it was some time after the Catholics.

So let's leave aside the Jews for the moment, since they were excluded from contributing to the heritage for so long. Let's look at the Christian part of that heritage. The Anglicans in England and Wales had votes before the Jews and Catholics did, but today they are tearing themselves apart because they can't agree on sexual morality. As I noted in a post on my other blog, African Anglicans and homosexuality, the Anglican Communion seems to be having its very own clash of civilizations between Western and African civilizations.

In that post the point was that African Anglicans who lived in close proximity to Muslims, as they do in Nigeria and Uganda, recall the very beginnings of their church, which began with the martyrdom of Christian pages at the court of the King of Buganda, who "had adopted Arab customs of pederasty, and he expected the young men of his court to submit to his demands. But a growing number of Christian courtiers and pages refused to participate, despite his threats, and an enraged king launched a persecution that resulted in hundreds of martyrdoms".

Think for a moment of those "Arab customs of pederasty", and now switch to something I blogged about just a few days ago in this blog: Notes from underground: Muslim parents ask UK schools to shelve pro-homosexual storybooks for 5-year-olds.

It seems that the Anglicans are not the only ones who find it hard to agree on sexual morality.

And who was it who represented Britain's "Judaeo-Christian heritage" -- the school authorities who prescribed the story books, or the Muslim parents who objected to them?

Now the accuracy of the story has been questioned, but assuming that it is true in outline, what is doing on here?

Ostensibly the reason for prescribing such stories is to prevent bullying in schools.

Now I haven't read the stories, and the descriptions in the news media may not be accurate, but the parental objections seem to be not that the stories are aimed at preventing bullying, but that they are teaching their five-year-old children sexual ethics that the parents disagree with, and don't say much about bullying. I wonder if those stories would have dissuaded the King of Buganda from bullying his pages?

It seems rather disingenuous.

Think about it another way. I bet that quite a number of Muslim kids in Britain are bullied by non-Muslim kids who tease them and say that their big brothers are making bombs in the attic. So how should this bullying be dealt with? Write story books for little kids showing that it's cool to make bombs?

One could go on multiplying examples to show that one of the main difficulties in the way of promoting moral regeneration and education in values is that people simply cannot agree which system of values to promote, and this leads to unedifying power struggles, with Anglicans in America suing one another over ownership of church buildings as a result of their failure to agree and determination to impose their set of values on everyone else.

In the mean time, things continue to get worse, as we see in an incident that took place closer to home, right here in Gauteng.


clipped from www.thetimes.co.za

While police are still in the dark about the identity of the driver who shot and killed a 12-year-old smash-and-grabber, it appears many South Africans have little sympathy for the young boy.

Comments on The Times website seemed to weigh in favour of the unknown gunman who killed the boy in Boksburg on Friday, with some even suggesting the killing of the youngster rid the country of a future criminal.

The boy was shot after he apparently smashed the window of a white Citi Golf on Rondebult Road in Boksburg, East of Johannesburg, and stole a cellphone. A witness claimed the boy ran away, but was chased by the driver who shot him in the chest and then fled the scene in his car.

blog it

Yes, there does seem to be a need for education in values in our society.

It seems that nobody taught this boy "Thou shalt not steal."

And nobody taught the driver of the car, "Thou shalt not kill."

Or perhaps someone taught them that, but they didn't learn it. As they say in edu-jargon, the learning outcomes were not achieved.

And the reported response of people to the incident shows that that failure is widespread throughout our society.

2 comments:

Yvonne said...

find what values they share in common, and agree to work together to promote those, and agree to disagree about the ones they don't share.

That seems like an excellent recommendation.

Of course pederasty is wrong, but let's not conflate it with homosexuality. Having sex with little girls is wrong too, but there's nothing wrong with consensual sex between adults (whatever gender they are).

Christian values are not what is holding Britain together, and in the past they have torn it apart. (Reformation? Civil War?)

I think we need more Unitarian values - social justice, social action, care for the environment, and inclusivity (there are other people and groups that share these values, but the Unitarians consistently got there first).

Steve Hayes said...

The point is that Christians don't seem to be able to agree among themselves, never mind with Jews.

And Muslims don't seem to be able to agree among themselves either, and are unitarians of a sort, with a small u anyway.

And with people not able to agree that killing children is wrong, as the debate over shooting a 12-year-old thief shows, are there any values that people agree on?

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