Is Morality Obsolete?


I recently read a disturbing article in the September 23, 2011 issue of The Week magazine.  (Has Morality Became Obsolete, page 14 – via The New York Times).  In it, author David Brooks “sums up the moral philosophy of most young Americans” by highlighting the refrain:

If it feels right to me, then it is.


Brooks cites the book “Lost in Transition” in describing the morals of our youth as “just a matter of individual taste.”  Moreover, he notes that Americans in their late teens and early 20s do not understand why judgments should be made on issues such as cheating on tests and infidelity.  Though their parents (and those even older), clearly see these things as “wrong,” our youth see them as decisions guided only by individual choice, without any connection to general value systems.  Worse, they seem to feel no obligation to society.  According to Brooks, the best way to sum up the morals of our future leaders is:

I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it.

So I ask you: what does this mean for us in terms of how we deal with each other?  Both as a parent and former educator, I can tell you that many of the youth I’ve dealt with do EXACTLY what they feel like doing, and EXACTLY when they feel like doing it.  They have little to no regard for consequences, nor do they profess to care about the negative impact of their actions on others.  As a teacher, if I had a dollar for every time a student told me “I don’t care!” whenever I scolded him/her about his/her actions, I’d be in the Forbes 500.

Worse yet, our children are perpetrating violence against each other by methods and and by degree in ways uncommon to our elders.  Not only are they fighting each other in schoolyards, as I remember, but they’re beating teachers and putting them in hospitals for “offenses” such as taking a student’s MP3 player.  Not only are they engaging in fisticuffs in the classroom, they’re shooting each other in the streets over something as monumentally silly as a gang’s proclaimed “turf.”  (Never mind that not ONE of the gang members actually owns any of the land).  When a student spends his class time showing off the cellphone picture he took of a dead neighborhood kid with a bullet hole in his head and blood running from his nose and mouth (true story), we are witnessing a  moral dilemma of unprecedented scale.

Meanwhile, politicians and school administrators are wasting precious time and money arguing over resources and playing the blame game.  It it the teachers’ fault?  Is it the unions’?  Is the system broken?  But for me, the answer is very simple.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue shouting it to the rooftops until the message is heard:

As a parent, my child’s attitude and moral standing is MY responsibility.  Period.

Would it be nice if this world were fair, and if all Americans REALLY had equal access to resources and privilege?  Of course it would.  Would this be a better world if we all competed on a truly equal playing field, with no special regard given to any particular race, gender, culture or sexual orientation?  Without question.  However, until that day comes, I pledge to my community that I, as a parent, will do all that I can to instill the morals, values and sense of spiritual connection espoused in The Berlack Method into the souls of my children.  I will work until my last breath to ensure that they reflect those morals and values because they are a direct reflection of the truth I speak.  How can I do that for my clients, and not for my own children?

What are YOU going to do?

Sound Off!

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2 Responses to "Is Morality Obsolete?"

  • Rashied Sharrieff-Al-Bey says:

    I’ve done this both personally and professionally, and while I won’t say that there isn’t a “something more I could have done” that’s situated in some blind spot I can’t readily access, I will venture to say that I did all I knew I could do in raising my own children and in counseling the children of others.

    What we’re seeing is moral relativism failing at the extreme. The argument that moral relativism makes is that my belief system, value system and my culture form the basis for how I determine what is right for me; that no one who is assessing from a different frame of reference can correctly determine this for me. As far as I’m concerned, the warrants of the claim, as well as its subclaims and evidence for each, are plain.

    Where that argument breaks down, however, is that these kids don’t *know* what’s right for them. What they’re doing isn’t so much moral relativism as it is nihilistic and hedonistic, and these present as a total lack of interest in the ultimate connectedness of all of us, more particularly of a people. These behaviors and these beliefs and thinking do not extrapolate to a universalizable consideration; they lead to a complete deconstruction and disintegration of a social order, such as it is.

    The best we can do, aside from regulating within our own homes and families, is to challenge the behavior when we meet it, to the extent that common sense permits.

  • Regina Jones says:

    Morality begins with the adults, Rashied Sharrieff-Al-Bey. Amoral parents raise amoral children.

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