Two shifts have occurred in our culture from walking away from morality and objective truth towards moral ambiguity and relativism. 1) We’ve lost our integrity. 2) We’ve insulated ourselves from accountability. In our culture’s quest to be more nuanced and evolved, we’ve created an irresponsible and uncivil environment.
Lack of integrity erodes trust
Fundamental to all scandals of late is violation of trust. People are angered by government surveillance because they’ve seen violation of trust by the IRS. We’ve seen through many institutions: churches, schools, colleges, government, families, etc. a downplay of integrity and an abuse of trust. Lack of trust builds antagonism and erodes civility as culture becomes polarized and reactionary. We are angered by such violations, but why?
Moral relativism erodes accountability
Relativism means we can’t tell someone they are wrong. This further propels us to avoid conflict. Conflict has grand potential of telling someone they’re wrong. Then, once trust is violated, we become angry. Not at what was morally wrong, but at the trust violated. Is integrity more important than trust, perhaps. What we’re seeing now that a lack of morality also equates to a lack of trust. How did this erosion gain so much momentum?
We destroyed accountability with irresponsibility
We the people. We the problem. We don’t trust government because we don’t trust one another. By not being able to declare rights in wrongs; from that avoiding conflict, and from that removing consequences as much a possible, we undermined responsibility. In the name of compassion (which is a good thing) we sacrificed responsibility. Part of this erosion is not understanding how our government and society works. This is not the fault of public education. We the people. We the problem. We created the mess that we’re in.
Yes, we’re depraved
Some in ministry circles push to downplay total depravity, often citing it’s overuse. Some outright deny the doctrine. Until we admit and see the problem, we cannot work towards a solution. While the ultimate solution is the Gospel, there is also a need for civility. God ordained government for a reason. One aspect that is profound about our government is an underlaying understanding of depravity.
The past wasn’t so bad
We view history often as inauthentic because of glaring errors or sins. We sense disillusionment. There are two problems with this. First, we’re no better and our sense of disillusionment is just another form of the judgmentalism we deride and often do. Second, in times past one’s accomplishments were viewed more highly than their faults. We see this at today’s funerals. The integrity, humility and civility of times past allowed one’s accomplishments to outshine their faults. This is a lost art today. In reading from the men of old they did not view themselves as flawless. They were keenly aware of their faults. But, unlike today, they had a framework to deal with that.
The bottom line:
A man of honor is a man of integrity. We need to get back to this basic. In thinking we are more enlightened than times past we’re so much worse than times past as well. We need to get back to declaring right and wrong, to upholding human responsibility. We need to get back to man’s word being everything. We need to get back to three pillars George Washington talked about: education, morality and religion.