(The Nationalist, 11 May 2001)
Just imagine for a moment that you were taken on a magic carpet and dropped into a land far away. What would you think of it, if it showed the following characteristics?
Language has become debased: words like truth, goodness and beauty are commonly regarded as having no meaning other than what the speaker attributes to them. Everything is just a matter of opinion. What’s true for you may not be true for me. You have your opinion, I have mine and that’s all there’s to it.
Freedom is seen as radical personal autonomy: ‘I want to do my own thing.’ Freedom is seen as the right to do what I want, rather than the right to do what I ought.
Rights are asserted without the recognition of corresponding responsibilities.
Wrongs have become right, and a right. In forty years, abortion, which was almost universally regarded as wrong is now regarded not just as right, but as a right.
Individualism is in, community is out. As Harvard Professor Robert D. Putnam said recently, we watch Friends and Neighbours on TV but have neither. Margaret Thatcher wrote, ‘There is no such thing as society, only individuals and families’.
People are possessed by possessions. Having has become more important than being. ‘An incessant “progress”, never ending in content-ment, means a condemnation of all people to a state of irremediable poverty.’ (Ananda Coomaraswamy)
Law is losing its moral basis. Robert Maxwell, the late media tycoon, said, ‘There is no such thing as moral obligation, only legal obligation’.
People run from the reality of death. In the nineteenth century, they were fascinated by death, while sex was the taboo subject, (not a taboo practice – far from it). In the twentieth century sex was talked about non-stop – we have it thrown in our face every day in advertisements – and death has become the taboo subject. Yet we imagine we can discuss things frankly.
Many are in the grip of addictions – to alcohol, sex, tobacco and illegal drugs. The suicide rate has multiplied.
Marriage and family life are under serious threat.
There is little joy or laughter, much cynicism and negativity.
While the technology of communication has gone ahead by leaps and bounds, human communication has become rushed and shallow. The art of conversation is dying.
In those sentences which begin with the words, ‘I don’t care…’ we imagine we are giving recognition to another’s freedom. But maybe we just mean, ‘I don’t care…’
What would you think of the country? Would you consider it a healthy society?