Morality in our country
To the editor:
A recent contribution to this column made a lengthy attempt to argue/prove that “morality” is a “personal choice and cannot be legislated.” Included was an attempt to use America’s principles and institutions, referencing for example, America’s Constitution and Bill of Rights, as evidence to support an argument castigating “liberals,” whatever that definition, as embodying the essence of immoral behavior versus an “assumed to be” moral behavior of certain political figures (now being widely portrayed in national media as nearing moral turpitude for their response to several critical social issues, in particular the coronavirus pandemic now devastating America … deaths in America now 170,422 and counting).
Among the many disparities in making that argument, it was devoid of any intent/responsibility for setting at least a baseline definition for “morality” being argued, a necessity for anything other than a simple “opine” on how one particular view of morality should be accepted.
So, this an effort to break that argument down for my own clarification and perhaps others of a reasonable mind (by ignoring the inflammatory language and insinuations that are the bulk of that contribution) in offering Webster’s Unabridged “morality” definition as the baseline leading to my contribution into that discussion:
mo-ral-i-ty noun: morality
1. Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
• a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.
• the extent to which an action is right or wrong.
• conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral virtuous conduct (holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct).
• moral quality or character
• a doctrine or system of morals (person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do)
If one is to apply this definition to that contributor’s argument, it is reasonable to opine that morality is personal choice and not conducive to being legislated (local/national laws notwithstanding). And if it is the case that the “wisdom of our Forefathers” (sic) should be guidance for how society should view … and practice … for example morality, then reflection on the Forefathers’ purpose in drafting those documents is indeed called for.
In that vein my opinion is that the contributor’s contextual extract got it right —“America achieves and strives for equality, prosperity, peace and the personal freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution and Bill of Rights” (sic). But in making that claim, the argument apparently or conveniently ignored that those principles apply equally to all people … not just those of a particular opine on what is “moral.” But in my mind, the argument that “liberals” are eroding, undermining or in any other fashion, attacking a standard of morality (cause it’s different than mine) ends in those first two paragraphs.
On the remainder of that argument, apparently drawn from many and disparate contexts,” there were far too many misstatements on the reality of a what is only a surmised intent of “liberals,” misleading facts on issues facing this country, half-truths from the overload of commonly shared diatribes from ultra-conservative news organizations/pundits and innuendos from conspiracy-based social media platforms. None of those intended to uplift/refine any sense of “morality” but are instead, intended to attack and distract attention from the legitimately vetted information sources that are fact-speaking to America’s legitimate issues and any potential to there being success-allowance for bi-partisan solution offerings.
In particular are those that pursue ensuring oversight of the principles for good government that sustains ethics, integrity and morality, keys to America’s success and that need to be in place to sustain this fragile experiment called democracy. Those are currently under a relentless attack by the current administration to eliminate oversight controls. In other words, that argument is little more than opinion promoting an obviously partisan and democracy-adverse agenda only interested in suffering the rights of others IF they are in alignment with that argument’s partisan view.
However, I do not want to discount its almost (should have been) much earlier-on last statement — “not likely our country will ever achieve total [moral] perfection … nor that the world will ever declare that racism is wiped out forever” (sic). That being only true if America’s and the world’s society as it evolves chooses to continue on a path using something akin to a definition of “morality” attempted to be legitimized in that editorial contribution.
Yes, morality is a personal choice that can’t (shouldn’t) be legislated … but good (i.e., patriotic) citizens of a civil and enlightened society will aspire and subscribe to a definition of morality that contributes to the common well-being of the society they are responsible to, one that is applies equally to all rather than, as in that argument, an agenda designed to divide society into partisan encampments.
Last word — VOTE your conscience … it’s your civic responsibility and don’t allow current efforts to suppress voting stop you!
Alvin G. Coiner
St. James City