American Values and Morals


Where Have Morals and Values Gone in America
Ethics: 1 the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment. 2 The system of morals of a particular person, religion, group, ect. (Webster, p.204) We as human beings are going to either hurt someone not meaning to or maybe we will plan to hurt them. No matter what a person’s view of life is, it is lead by ethics, whether the ethical idea a person follow be right or wrong. There are many different ideas on ethics and what theory is the best for the society a person lives in may decide what ethical view the person may have. Every choice we make has some form of ethics in it. The decline of morals and values has changed the people and families in the United States.

In 1963 prayer and religion was removed from our public schools. Since we no longer pray or teach our young people the morals or values found in the Bible, there has been a negative impact on our young people.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s our children committed crimes like running in the halls, cutting in line, or being loud, now in 2010 our children drugs and alcohol, rape, rob, and kill themselves. Taking prayer and religion out of our schools and away from our children has changed who our children will become.

John Adams in 1798 said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (Adams J. 1798) His views where shared by others, such as, Benjamin Rush, Gouvernerneur Morris, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington.

Prayer and religion has always been a way to teach our children moral values. Before they removed prayer from our schools children showed these values, after the removal we see drugs, fighting, sex, and killings. The lack of moral values has changed the way our young people act.

The decline of morality is a growing problem throughout the world not just the United States. The world we live on is changing. Towns and cities are changing as well as the people who live in them.

I grew up in a small town in Florida, as I grew up we were taught to have respect for others we prayed in school and at home. We held morals and values very high in our home. Thomas Jefferson was a moral man because he understood morality and was able to recognize immorality. We need to learn recognize morality in ourselves and our young.

Some think moral decline is stimulated by immoral leaders. Leaders like Bill Clinton need to be moral to set a good example. But the people of America elected him twice, why? A society of generally immoral people. The transition back to strong values and good moral standards needs to start in everyone’s own home and mind. We need to make the changes for ourselves and our children. The increase in divorces and the decreases in marriages does not reflect breakdown of the family unit in the United States and the loss of moral values, I don’t feel the divorce is the cause of the loss of moral values, many people get divorced and their children grow up to be good people.

Some of the ideas on ethics that affect people and the way they view moral values are ; Libertarian; an advocate for full individual freedom of thought and action (Webster, p.340) Libertarians believe everyone has a right to live their life any way he or she chooses as long as the rights of others right to life are respected. They believe success and harmony grow when there is as much liberty and as little government as possible.

Cultural relativism; The ethical theory which asserts that ethical principles are relative to cultures; what is right or wrong is determined by the specific culture, and moral practices will differ from culture to culture (Waller,p.331) Cultural relativism is the belief that all customs, are relative to the individual within his own social context. What is right in one society may be wrong in another society .It is difficult to truly grasp the hardships or endearments of another person whose circumstances are uniquely different then their own. So what may be the right answer for one person with the same problem, it may be the wrong answer for another person. So we would have to say cultural relativism we learn our ethics from the society or culture we live in.

Natural Law Ethics ; “an ethical theory that counts human acts ( and the laws and principles governing them) as morally good when they promote the development of our true human nature; maintains that our human nature and its proper development is assigned by God; and holds that the key element of our human nature is our God given rationality.” (Waller, p.332) Natural law is rationality of Gods will in accordance with Gods eternal plan. It is given by God and all human beings know it naturally. This law states that it is universal, but is it possible for any law or theory to be universal? Looking at a example; we have a mother a son and a man the son has great dislike for some unknown reason, the man walks towards them the son pulls a gun ready to kill the man, the mother in fear for the man and her son steps in front of the gun. Will the son shoot or will he pull the gun down and let the man pass. I think in most cases in any country the son would lower the gun rather than take a chance on harming his mother. This could be considered universal respect for ones mother and/ or father. But I don’t feel this is enough to say Natural law is a good way to go. If it was reversed and the man had the gun would he have shot, harming the mother and son? Most likely he would have, but in rare cases there is respect for mothers or women and he may have put the gun down.

Divine Command Theory of Ethics; the view that all values and ethical principles are established by God’s command or by God’s will; also known as theological voluntarism.( Waller,p.331) Divine command theory says that an act is either moral or immoral. This is because either God commands it or God prohibits it. I think this is a wonderful idea but it’s a crock, God gave us free will so that we could make our own choices and so on. So the idea to do whatever God commands is not going to work. Most church going people try to abide by what they learn from the Bible as to how one should act and treat others ( do unto others as you would have them do unto you ) , one problem we have with this is there are so many different religions and different beliefs that trying to do Gods will would be quite confusing. We all know the Ten Commandments and what they stand for and where they come from, but will ten small rules really are able to make us all ethically correct? There also are the churches where the preacher is there to make money, and the Bible and Gods will is changed or misused for the preachers own benefit. I do think we as Americans do use Gods will and the Bible as our base for how we act and how we do most everything. But I feel it is a base we build off of not our complete structure for ethics. This would fail otherwise, because where would the people who does not believe in God or a higher power go what ethical choices would they make? No matter the argument there has to be a lot more then because God said so.

I think that most people want to be good at heart, but the relaxed way of child rearing of our times has left out some very important factors, like respect, trust, honesty, truth. In today’s society when we have a child that acts out they are taken to a doctor and they are usually told the child has ADHD, in bygone days the child would have had consequences for his or her actions. I know when I grew up (I’m 44) there was consequences for every action, we didn’t play violent games or listen to vulgar music, we respected our elders and had values instilled in us that would prevent us from doing bad. Our parents believed in spare the rod spoil the child. Now it is against the law to spank a child, most all forms of punishment are against the law and are considered abuse. I received spankings when I was a child but I do not feel I was abused. I feel my parents loved me and wanted me to turn out to be a good person. There are so many medical excuses now for bad behavior in children that parents do not discipline their children they medicate them, and the moral values we use to teach our children are pushed under the rug.

There are so many various types of people with different ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and ways of living that are the cause of our distinct values in a family unit. These families have poor, mediocre or virtuous family values, however what one may conceder as a mediocre family value may seem poor to someone else and vice-versa. Family values differ from family to family and what each feels the most important differs as well.

I feel that even though we have many theories on ethics and morals, that there may in fact be no right or wrong way to decide what is ethical. I feel very strongly that it really depends on the situation, the social setting, and the person’s home life. What one person finds wrong many more will say it is right and what one person finds right many more will find it wrong. The only ethics we really all can agree on is do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I feel we have a responsibility to our children to teach the right and wrong. In the United States moral values have made a big turn for the worse over the last 20 years. Everyone has their own set of values, (socially shared conceptions) our values influence our orientations, actions, reactions, and interpretations. Two core values are trust and honesty; these two values are claimed by many of us but contradicted over and over. Most everyone wants to hear the truth, and trust and honesty run hand in hand; if we are honest we gain a person’s trust.
The world has changed so much that traditionally good things now often show negative consequences, while formerly "bad" things are seen in a much more positive light. For example, it used to be that transforming wilderness into roads, cities and arable land was a sign of progress. Nowadays, there are so few virgin forests left that most people would agree that they should be preserved at all cost. Similarly, in previous times sex outside marriage was viewed as an inherently dangerous phenomenon, responsible for spreading diseases and destabilizing families. Presently, thanks to the use of antibiotics and contraceptives, extramarital sex is seen as rather innocuous, and a matter of personal preferences rather than a danger to society. Recently, the spread of AIDS has made irregular sex dangerous again, but that might change once more with the development of an HIV vaccine.(unknown,2010)

This information was found by a survey done by Adery Barrick “Thirty-one percent of the public is Orthodox - America's most religiously observant people who consider deep religious faith to be the most essential ingredient for living a good and moral life. Progressives - those who advocate a secularized approach to private and public life and reject the notion that living a moral life requires deep religious beliefs - accounted for 17 percent of the public. And 46 percent of the public are Independents - those whose guiding principle is neither religious revelation nor secular ideology. Independents view religious beliefs as just one of many ingredients needed to live a moral life.

With that, a major finding in the study showed that the majority of Americans, from the Orthodox to the Independents, say they believe the moral values in America are weaker than they were 20 years ago. Overall, 74 percent said so. Nearly half went further to say moral values today are much weaker.

Most Americans attribute the media to the moral decline. The National Cultural Values Survey found that 68 percent of Americans say the media - entertainment and news - are having a detrimental effect on moral values in America. Moreover, 74 percent who believe moral values are weaker consider the media to be the second greatest influence on moral values after parents and families.

Crumbling personal and societal sexual moral standards may also account for the significant moral decline. Survey results revealed that 16 percent say sex between unmarried adults is never wrong; 49 percent more say it depends on the situation; and 65 percent say they will excuse sex outside marriage. Additionally, 45 percent say divorce should be legal for any reason at any time.
Only 67 percent believe premarital sex among high school kids is always wrong. On the controversial issue of gays and lesbians, only 49 percent think homosexuality is wrong. While 14 percent say homosexuality is right, 26 percent say it depends on the situation.” (Barrick,A. 2007/08/2007) I don’t agree with all of the findings from this survey but it gives us a look at what 2000 people in the United States has to say concerning our decline in moral values and a look at some of what may be the cause of the decline.

“Lots of people with good moral values fail. To be human is to be vulnerable to all kinds of weakness -- from drinking or diets to having affairs. Some people are stronger and can face temptation, but it's a hard thing to be moral, day in and day out.”

Being selfish is far easier. History proves the point: the near annihilation of American Indians, the Salem witch trials, slavery, Japanese internment camps and McCarthy Era blacklists -- all marring the reputation of a country that calls itself the “land of the free” and all within a short span of a few hundred years. Based upon that historical view, Jost says, “I'd argue society is getting better.” The tone of his voice, however, indicates the answer is far from simple. “Every culture and era has had important questions,” he says. “The questions we face are different in their complexity, but not more difficult.” Is what Larry Jost has to say about our morals? (Jost L., university of cincinnati) Is he right, is being selfish easier or do people just not know what morels are any more.

I grew up in the south where being a Lady or a Gentleman is something that you are taught from birth, is all that gone? I think it is. It has been a very long time since I’ve met any lady’s or gentlemen. The big question is how we get back to bygone years, to when men opened doors for lady’s that wore dresses and knew how to talk without vulgar langue. Where families stayed together and went to church. Will we ever get those days back? I think they are gone forever that with technology and a rapidly advancing society I think we have to try to change for the sake of our way of life. Parents today have to take a stand and teach our young to have respect for themselves and others. To get back some of the moral values we use to hold so dear. The question we have to ask ourselves is do American want a change or not.

References
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(Barrick, 2007)
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(Rieselman, 2008)
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