Selling Morality to an Amoral Public
Since my husband is facing a few days of enforced rest, I bought a couple of "two thumbs up" funny movies to keep him entertained and to distract us, two intense policy wonks, from the current political campaigns. Both films came highly recommended as hilarious, heartwarming comedies and we looked forward to some restorative laughter while we rested instead of engaging in the usual pre-Christmas shopping, cooking and decorating.
We also watched a couple of episodes of Comedy Central on Television. Any true wit or humor is buried under far too many layers of crude language, potty humor and infantile behavior. The characters are too overdrawn and the slapstick too pervasive. The ultimate incongruity is having a clean-cut, beautiful girl engage in the coarseness and become part of the vulgarity. To put it bluntly, both the movies and the comedy routines reveal the bankruptcy of the amoral modern liberal ideology -- the chaotic, absurd, impotent, libertine worldview of the Hollywood left. Some authors describe that worldview as "moral indeterminacy" and lament the "apolitical utopianism."
Sadly, that worldview permeates American culture.
When presidential candidates try to explain the connection between morality and politics, that culture is the audience. The people who laugh at today's comedies probably are not capable of understanding the importance of faith and morals in shaping history and enabling civil society to function effectively.
Liberalism is impotent in the face of the challenges of reality. For instance, one challenge is when an adolescent - previously preoccupied with sex and the excitement of the chase - starts to look for genuine love and runs smack into the demands for fidelity and love's inherent territoriality. Amoral modern liberals have no clue how to meet the demands of love. How can a person with a deep-rooted history of self-indulgence, who lives without restraint or accountability, possibly know what is the right thing to do, much less have the courage and character to do the right thing?
One valuable aspect of movies is that effective storytelling boils down to presenting a collection of events that allows us to see the individuals' personalities and character. The various events constitute a thread running through their lives that gives identity and a unique persona to the individuals. Each moment contributes to the whole and plays a role in shaping the entire lifetime. Ironically, in order to produce drama, the playwright has to address reality and its consequences. In that sense, life is like a tree, and our roots are our history. The consequences of the past are carved into our psyche. For instance, when a tree is cut, the rings of the trunk reveal the good and bad years - all the events of its lifetime are incorporated into the trunk of that tree. Similarly, all of the past is there in a person's life; the accumulated experiences mold and shape the personality and the character. When those experiences are negative and harmful to the person's development, we speak of that person as "carrying baggage." Sadly, many of today's young people are carrying an awful lot of baggage at a very early age.
So, how can today's presidential candidates communicate the importance of faith and morality for civil society in a culture that has repudiated the basic Judeo-Christian values? How can the candidates bring reality and common sense, much less character and integrity, into the chaotic state of modern thought and behavior?
If the conservatives win the 2008 presidential election, it will be as much a matter of the liberals losing as conservatives winning. In hindsight, the vaunted genius of Karl Rove in the two Bush victories is now questioned. Political analysts are reevaluating Rove's vaunted brilliance. They claim that if the left had been more competent, the left would have annihilated the Bush effort.
Politics, like life, is full of contradictions. The liberals, for all their so-called respect for privacy, rely heavily on opposition research. Note Hillary's information about Obama's 3rd grade essay about wanting to be President! The concept of privacy appeals to modern people whose narcissism and self-indulgence requires a veil of privacy behind which to hide and avoid accountability.
Can a moral leader appeal to today's amoral public? Probably not, unless reality intervenes. The British rejected Churchill's warnings until Hitler's invasion of Poland created a climate where realistic leadership was necessary. Then it became a fight for survival. Likewise, the American public won't embrace a moral leader without necessity demanding a "savior." Until such a time that a savior is needed, the public won't turn to a moral leader.
There is hope, however, because the chaotic state of modern leadership provides that possibility - even though those willing to accept the boundaries of morality have never been, and probably never will be, a majority.
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