Losing our direction
“The first effect of not believing in God is that you lose your common sense.” These words of wisdom by G. K. Chesterton deserve serious reflection.
Few will deny that many of us have a sinking feeling that our society is losing its common sense and awareness of God. Our sense of right or wrong is now open to debate.
Any attempt to take a stand on traditional issues exposes us to being branded ‘fundamentalists’; of being ‘dogmatic’. Such branding seems sufficient to disqualify a person from taking part in any meaningful discussion on issues that really matter.
With remarkable folly, many Maltese seem hell bent on getting rid of our traditions. As Fr Paul Chetcuti said so eloquently recently in this column, we seem determined to shoot down taboos. This trend of questioning traditionally-held values is now considered the hallmark of emancipation and sophistication.
Unfortunately, as in so many countries in the western world, Malta is adopting the prevalent culture that promotes the idea that instant gratification is the highest good known to man. Self-indulgence has been promoted as a sign of positive mental health, while self-restraint has come to represent a sign of mental imbalance.
The doctrine of not being judgemental, which is just indifference masquerading as tolerance, is now corrupting public opinion and is increasingly being accepted as unassailable. According to this avant-garde doctrine, there is no virtue except a failure to condemn, and no vice except holding a belief that one way of life is better than another.
The only goal of public policy has been reduced to grappling with the symptoms by promoting risk reduction. For instance, drug addicts are provided with sterile needles, promiscuity is addressed by peddling condom use and the offer of vaccines that wrongly imply that irresponsible behaviour can be indulged in safely.
Also, parents’ rights and responsibilities are being abused as government authorities foist so-called sex-education on younger age groups without any thought of the different maturing levels of their subjects. The exponential growth of pregnancies in the very young is an indication of sad results of these wrong-headed policies that have already failed elsewhere.
In our much-vaunted free and pluralist society, it is not the duty of the state to produce virtuous citizens, or to enforce virtue. It can, however, encourage one form of behaviour over another. It can, for example, stop pretending that it is of no consequence whether a child has one parent or two. Very often, legislation trying to place responsible and irresponsible behaviour on a par is counter-productive.
It does not require much imagination to realise that pandering to a society with values that can be stretched like an elastic band to please everybody is doomed to please no one. Such policies always fall flat on their face.
We have seen this happen elsewhere. Irresponsibility breeds more irresponsibility and this leads to an ever increasing dependence on the state, which in the long run is unsustainable and destroys the social fabric.
Unfortunately, political rivalry has been reduced to bidding at an auction sale, where each group tries to outbid the other in offering this, that or the other to a gullible electorate and trying to placate strident pressure groups irrespective of the justification of their demands.
This is the anti-thesis of sound politics, which is a crucial vocation for society’s welfare. We need to change tack and educate the public to realise that actions have consequences and that we all have our share, at various levels of responsibility, in the unfolding of our country’s destiny.
Standing on the sidelines or just following trends that seem to win popularity is fundamentally unethical and un-Christian.
All people in positions of leadership, be it media, politics, education or otherwise, should have sufficient courage and integrity to go to the roots of our social malaise and realise that our traditions and time-hallowed values should be safeguarded and promoted.