It’s time to recalibrate the moral compass for our society. Promoting moral values is not the same as imposing religious values. Society never has the right to impose religious belief. But it does have the right and the duty to uphold a certain standard of moral behaviour for its leaders and its citizens.
Too often, religion has stood in the way of a moral dialogue within society. It is true that moral teachings are foundational to many religious traditions, but you don`t have to be a religious person to be a moral person. My belief in God and the rituals and traditions surrounding that belief may differ from yours. This does not mean that we cannot share a common respect for the dignity and rights of each person. Having different religious traditions, or no religious tradition, does not excuse us from uniting as a moral society.
I can hear the objections already. Can we claim a universal morality or truth in this postmodern time? Haven`t we worked hard to deconstruct past absolutes? Isn`t it better to embrace a universal tolerance that upholds the relativity of truth for each person, place and time?
In 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It outlines and acknowledges the basic rights of each human person on this shared globe of ours. It would take a truly hardened skeptic not to recognize the truth reflected in this list.
The Ten Commandments are the basic moral tenants in the Judeo-Christian tradition. They outline the rules needed for a harmonious society, regardless of our religious beliefs. If we live according to these guide-lines, and the golden rule of treating others as we want to be treated, then we will ensure that the basic rights of others will be met…We must not covet or take that which is not ours. We must uphold, support and honour families and relationships. We must be faithful to our commitments. We must respect life and the dignity of all, ensuring that the goods of the earth are shared equitably. We must be truthful and honest in our dealings. We must not spread callous lies or slander another person.
When these rules are broken, the doors are opened to distrust, antagonism, hatred and retaliation. Relationships are severed, unity and security are destroyed and peace is lost – whether on a personal or societal level.
One of the greatest fallacies of our day is the belief that our private lives and actions have no effect on others. Take a moment to ponder any of the personal scandals making the head-lines today. We don`t have to look hard to see how the effects of one person`s bad behaviour quickly ripple outwards in ever-increasing circles.
It is time for us as a society to recalibrate our moral compass. We have to raise the standard of decency, while acknowledging that we are all a work in progress. None of us is perfect. But we must no longer tolerate immoral behaviour in the name of personal freedom.