One of our favorite pastimes sometimes appears to be complaining about things and then pointing out who out there is responsible for the problems. If something in the world is not to our liking, then we want to find who to blame. There’s an old adage that when we use our hands to point at others, there are at least 3 fingers pointing back at ourselves.
America is at crossroads in its moral history. Whereas eight years ago many of us will filled with hope for our future as the world appeared to turn a page as we elected our first non-white President, we now appear to be slipping backwards. Donald Trump won the election campaigning with a message of fear and divisiveness. He stoked the embers of racism and sexism still smoldering within the consciousness of many of our populace. He spoke of banning Muslims and building walls between us and Mexico. His election has opened us to a world that scares many of us — a world where women and people of color are treated as second class citizens; a world that only works for those who are white and wealthy. This is not the America I want. This is a world where our morality has slipped and missed the mark of its highest possibilities.
A few years ago, I pondered the issue of America’s Ethical Slippage. In its follow up article, I suggested how we might Reclaim Our Moral High Ground. There, I called for us to live from the standard of the “golden rule” — “do onto others as you would have them do onto you”. This is still good advice for us. However, what to do when others don’t live by that rule? In that article, I suggested that one thing we all needed to do was to “hold those who don’t act ethical accountable”. This is key during these times when many appear to be slipping further away from the golden rule’s guidance.
What we cannot do at this time is allow the mistreatment of others to become normalized. Each us of must speak up when we see injustice. We cannot look to others to blame for not maintaining the moral standards of our country. We must take responsibility ourselves.
In a recent article, Neal Gabler writes about his sense that the media is starting to normalize the election of Trump but as his article stresses, “the media must not excuse the racism, misogyny, nativism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia because we think Trump voters have legitimate gripes.” He is right. His article says that Trump’s demonization of the press with his followers has put the press back on its heals in their treatment of him. Yet Gabler calls the press to hold true to doing their jobs of being our conscience.
He writes, “Can the media grow a conscience? Or: Can the media be our conscience? This is not a role they have played or appear to feel comfortable playing. They don’t take sides; they work in equivalencies. But the media owe it to America to hold Trump, the Republicans the Democrats, and the rest of us to the highest moral standards. They owe it to the country to call out the bigotry. This is not strictly speaking politics, and it isn’t sociology. It is something much more, and, I think, much more valuable. It is morality, and it isn’t as complicated as some would have you believe. Just this: Always report the truth. Promote the good. Condemn the bad. And don’t ever normalize or excuse the worst in us.”
I agree but say we must go further…..we each must play a role in holding ourselves to our highest standard. We must not be silent in the face of hate and injustice. We must each speak out and hold our politicians and our country to its highest ethical standard.
Ps. Note that in a “shameless plug”, I would suggest that some of the guidance in my book Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities is extremely pertinent here. The link takes you to the KIndle book on Amazon. The article mentioned above on reclaiming our moral high ground has a nice summary of the key points.~MG