The Future of Ethics and Morals
By Sandra Anna James
In his essay “Perpetual Peace,” the German philosopher Immanuel Kant talked about the importance for each country to come together and join forces in a “league of nations” whose sole objective would be to ensure their peaceful coexistence. According to Kant, the governments are morally obligated to pursue peace and collaborate with other nations to ensure perpetual order.
Kant’s ideal and the need for a set of rules to govern our self-interested behaviors are now more evident than ever before. In today’s America, there is a rupture between those who still live by the principles of ethics and morals and those who don’t care for them at all. Instead of being united by the ideal of peace, as Kant envisioned the future, we are divided by hatred.
Given these circumstances, one can’t help but wonder: what is the future of ethics and morals in today’s America?
The Importance of Ethics
No nation can survive without a strong ethics and moral foundation. They’re the driving force that shapes individual behaviors within a society. While the written law holds people and companies responsible for their actions, ethics represent a self-governing system that allows people to live together and preserve the peace of the community. Due to ethics, we’ve achieved a state of equilibrium that teaches us how to behave when the watchful eye of the law is not available.
However, in today’s society, ethics seem to have eroded. More often than not, people no longer respect the unwritten rules that ensured their peaceful coexistence. And, the deeper the erosion of ethics, the more the interaction between people, whether it’s business or friendship, suffers. Since fewer people respect the rules, nobody will no longer trust anybody and society as we know it will cease to exist.
Are Ethics and Morals in America an Endangered Species?
It might seem like a grim picture but, judging by the way things are going right now, ethics and morals look like an endangered species. One of the most visible signs that we have a serious ethics problem is within the life and blood of our country: the Government.
The Government is the part of America where the deterioration of ethics and morals can best be observed. It’s here that greed, personal interest, and corruption have taken over the rigorous standards and behaviors that once prevailed.
Ethics and morals are on the verge of becoming extinct in today’s Government. Instead of addressing and solving some of the country’s most stringent problems, such as the deterioration of the education system, income inequality, massive student debts, and so on, politicians parade them in front of the citizens, inciting them one against each other.
As a result, we are deeply divided on every possible subject from abortion and marriage to guns, foreign policies, migrants, privacy right, and even God.
Fortunately, there’s one thing we can all agree: the country is going in the wrong direction.
A Ray of Hope
Evidence of America’s crisis of ethics can be seen everywhere, from the business world to our politics. However, our personal and social behavior has improved significantly in the past few decades. Although it may not seem like it, we are less racist, homophobic, and sexists than we were three decades ago. The rates of crime, drunken driving deaths, divorce, teen pregnancy, and domestic violence are also down.
Why this gap?
One explanation might be that while we are divided regarding important national issues, we’ve understood that if we want to live in a peaceful community, we need to keep our conduct in check. We’ve understood that united we can work and function better. Now, we need to apply this as a nation as well.
Let’s not allow the elite to divide us. United we are better and stronger!
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