Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Failure of Morality

In a descriptive sense, morality derives from either a written or unwritten code of conduct which is held by the society to be authoritative as to what is "right" or acceptable or "wrong" and therefore unacceptable. Descriptive morality is usually based on some ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people. Wikipedia.

No society can exist without morality. Because we live together and interact, we must have some predictive norm in our interactions. The Book of Mormon describes, in graphic detail, the collapse of a society that abandoned its moral structure. Quoting Third Nephi, Chapter 7:
2 And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land. 3 And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes. 4 Now behold, there was no man among them save he had much family and many kindreds and friends; therefore their tribes became exceedingly great. 5 Now all this was done, and there were no wars as yet among them; and all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan. 6 And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combination of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets. 7 And they did cause a great contention in the land, insomuch that the more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked; yea, there were but few righteous men among them.
This passage describes a society where "secret societies" that is, individuals who had combined to circumvent the laws and morals of the society, had succeeded in abrogating both the law of the land and norms by which the society was able to operate. Today, in the United States, we have the same challenge and perhaps, with the same results. We have specific organizations whose goals both publicly expressed and private or secret, are to destroy the social and moral fabric of our society. The most vocal of these organizations and individuals claim the protection of their rights as the basis for the destruction of the family, community and the government of the entire country. They would remake society in their own selfish, self absorbed goal of power over the rest of the country.

Again, to the Book of Mormon, at one point, the entire society of the people, the Nephites, was threatened by bands of robbers. It is noteworthy that the head or chief robber Giddianhi wrote a letter to the head of the established government, Lachoneus. Giddianhi first claimed that the existing government was not legitimate:
3 Nephi 3:2 Lachoneus, most noble and chief governor of the land, behold, I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people, in maintaining that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty; yea, ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of a god, in the defence of your liberty, and your property, and your country, or that which ye do call so.
Noteworthy is how Giddianhi ended his claim to take over the government
3 Nephi 3:10 And I write this epistle unto you, Lachoneus, and I hope that ye will deliver up your lands and your possessions, without the shedding of blood, that this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government, and except ye do this, I will avenge their wrongs. I am Giddianhi.
There is a striking parallel between the attitude of these robbers and those who would challenge our own government today. The key claim was for "rights" and the accusation against the established government was that in denying the robbers their "rights" the established government, not the robbers themselves, was "wicked." Presently there are those who would claim that personal rights as determined by the individual are superior to any other consideration. In taking this position they would ignore the very foundation of our nation, our liberty and ultimately our freedom. As it says in the Constitution of the United States of America:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Our founding fathers did not forge a nation of individuals asserting their individual rights above the common good, but they established a Union in order to establish justice and insure domestic tranquility. Let us remember that we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all and that justice mandates that we serve the common good, not to be replaced with the selfish desires of individuals who would destroy the common good for their own selfish and self serving ends.

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