252. The Moral Dilemma of an Average Man (or Woman)

The Eng­lish word “moral” (adj. moral ; n. moral­ity; v. mor­al­ize) is not sexy. It is stained forever with images of self-right­eous old men say­ing wor­thy things, then rush­ing off (from church or wherever) to lie, steal and coerce the weak in secret. That has been the never-end­ing his­tory of poor lead­er­ship world­wide. The usual mis-used tools are pro­pa­ganda, rules, pun­ish­ment, ide­ol­ogy and reli­gion. Not sur­pris­ingly, more and more of us have said “enough of this crap!”. The trou­ble is, we do need some­thing like “moral­ity” to live together. That is, we need some com­mon sense rules for get­ting along, being fair, and putting some lim­its on what we do to other peo­ple, or even to our own minds and bod­ies. (Maybe some­body should invent a new word for this stuff). Most of the time, most of us do pretty well. Oth­er­wise we would have killed each other off long ago. How­ever, there is no doubt though that some peo­ple go off the tracks more than oth­ers, and at cer­tain times in his­tory whole cul­tures go a bit crazy. War is the worst exam­ple, but any cul­ture or sub­cul­ture may also have plagues of bad behav­iour. Amer­i­can mer­chant bankers come to mind. Main­land China at the moment is at a pretty low point (it is not alone of course). There is almost no pub­lic trust in China now, and the pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Social Sci­ences, Li Han­lin, has just con­cluded from a study that “fewer than 4 in every 100 peo­ple sur­veyed said they had a clear con­cept of what social moral­ity meant, while more than half believed that nowa­days China has no speci­fic moral stan­dards to be fol­lowed.” (http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013–01/01/content_16073536.htm). That cer­tainly states the fail­ure of “Chi­nese com­mu­nism”. The real fail­ure of course has been in moral lead­er­ship. Most peo­ple are not very good or very bad. They are swayed eas­ily by bad exam­ples, bad lead­er­ship. Human lead­ers often fail, from fam­ily level to national level. The idea of hav­ing a sin­gle, super­nat­u­ral God + a magic book (Bible, Q’ran, Tal­mud .. what­ever) is to have good lead­er­ship to copy, and which will never fail. As we know from a few thou­sand years of his­tory, that hasn’t worked too well either. More sug­ges­tions?


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