A Moral Vacuum
It was British philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke who coined the immortal and oft-quoted phrase, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”Burke’s now somewhat clichéd observation was intended as a warning, but in many instances, it is apparent that that warning has not been heeded.There is an evil afflicting modern New Zealand society, and we as a nation are doing little if anything about it.
The creeping evil which is spreading through this country is the stealthy corruption of our national moral fibre, brought about by the steady and systemic failure of individuals, and of the institutions of which they are part, to correctly use their free choice to do what is right, in situations where decisions of right and wrong are involved.
Our national institutions and the structures of our society are rotting from the top down, and We, the People, are doing nothing to stop it. Government, Industry, organised religion, the establishments of Education, non-Governmental organisations, international bodies, and even some sporting and cultural structures, are affected by this malaise.
I am not referring to any moral conundrum of the type decried from the pulpit, or railed against by evangelists. I am talking about the simple departure from the unspoken acceptance of the requirement – the duty, even – of every person, to speak the truth, keep their word, and do the right thing, as they know it to be.
From the highest levels of Government we see this spreading darkness. Cabinet Ministers, a Prime Minister even, caught lying, and worse; double dipping, drink-driving, falsifying tax returns, falsifying election expenses, forgery, cheating on housing expenses, and advocating sodomy with beer bottles, amongst other things.
Yet rather than resign immediately from the nation’s Parliament, these individuals attempt to justify their actions, and worse still, they receive a measure of outward support from their parties and superiors in this attempted justification.
These actions do not go unnoticed in society, and they set an example more powerful than a thousand policy speeches could ever hope to achieve. And we allow this evil to prevail, by doing nothing about it.
The same Government uses its Parliamentary majority – which is not a numerical majority of the electorate, and can in no way be regarded as a mandate – to railroad through social engineering policies such as the Civil Unions Bill, the disbandment of the Air Force, and the ban on smoking in pubs; changes for which there is no public desire, and much disquiet and contention. In any previous generation, Government and its individual members would have felt duty-bound to respond, and to acquiesce, to the wishes of the silent majority of the population; today, they do whatever they please, simply because they know they can. When and why did this change come about, and why do we, the people, permit it?
Other shifts are taking place in the corridors of power. Restructuring of the public sector, driven by dogma and ideology, has seen the departure of the cream of a once-proud Civil Service; an institution steeped in tradition, apolitical, dedicated to the nation, and whose members were considered incorruptible, now replaced by a corporate structure driven by the profit motive.
We the People have supported this change, by not preventing it at the ballot box.
The Chief of our Defence Forces, previously chosen by peer review – in line with two hundred years of British tradition – may now be a political appointment. This insidious change removes us from the process followed by the likes of Britain, Canada, Australia, and the United States, and into the company of such nations as Chile, Argentina, Zimbabwe and Indonesia. The traditional, apolitical, allegiance of the military – and indeed the Police – to the Sovereign, and thereby the nation, is now within the grasp of the Government of the Day. And We the People have likewise failed to prevent it.
Alongside this degeneration of Governmental standards of behaviour, has been a parallel faltering on the part of Big Business and mainstream religion.
From the scams of Mr Asia, and the speculators of the ’87 crash, to the Winebox and the parasites of privatisation, New Zealand business has fled from the age-old ethics of established industry like rats leaving a sinking ship; and once again, in our united silence, we ordinary New Zealanders have failed to stop it from happening.
And scarcely a day goes by without yet another report of sexual abuse against young people in the care of one religious order or another. With every one of these attacks against the very fabric of the decent society, we are seeing an erosion of the time-honoured and respectful way in which our nation was built, and with it, the loss of more and more of what we once liked to call “Family Values”.
Family Values….we all grew up under them, so did our parents and grandparents. Where are they now? Why is our generation failing those who will come after us, those for whom we are responsible? What’s changed? In part, I would guess, increased communication, via TV, the internet, and so on, has revealed to more and more people the previously hidden truth of the increasingly corrupt nature of national governments and big business. And people do follow examples.
Partly, also, it is the deliberately anti-family activities, of deliberately anti-family organisations such as the United Nations, in corrupting the new generation into thinking that the family is bad, and should be replaced by some international institution.
And just for the record, I do happen to think that there is a Great Conspiracy, and I do happen to think that the UN is pure evil supported only by utter fools, and is an integral part of it.
Partly, also, endemic corruption within the established churches, who are supposed to provide some sort of ethical guy rope to society, is more and more being exposed by the same increased communication as has illuminated Government and business.
In the past, though such corruption has almost always been present, it has also been hidden, and people have had more of a motivation to follow the example held up before them, rather than the unseen truth of the institution promoting it. Partly, the cult of self; the relentless march of self-gratification allowed by advancing technology, and promoted by the profit motive of capitalism. But mostly, I think, it has come about through the abrogation of responsibility. There was a time when a man’s word was his bond, when a deal was set in stone with a handshake. People had honour then.
Now, we have lawyers and contracts and lawsuits and countersuits. Why? Young men will not take responsibility for the children they have fathered. Why not? Because society allows them to abrogate that responsibility, by setting them the example that there is a way out, just as there is a way out of a contract, and a way out of honouring your word. Mankind – western civilisation if you prefer – has become decadent and corrupt, and we are in danger of going to hell in a handcart, just as many societies have done before us. If there is a way to stop this, and it may not be too late, then I believe it will not come from Governments, or any of the “established” Churches, or Corporations, or International Organisations, or any other corrupted institution. It will come from the hearts and minds of individuals; ordinary decent people who want the best for the generations who are to follow us.
The politicisation of education, the march of political correctness, the unrequested and downright dangerous pacification of a nation and its new generation, and the tacit approval of a host of other sins through the complicity of non-action, is the responsibility of every ordinary New Zealander. We must not rest in silence while our nation is stolen from around us. We owe it to our forebears, and to the generations who will follow, to claim responsibility for the nation which has been forged in our name, and to refill the moral vacuum which has been created through our collective inaction in the face of an insidious evil.
Take responsibility for your word, thought, and action, in your own life; if we all do this, it must follow, that the direction of mankind and his societies will do the same.
I believe in capitalism, I support the profit motive, I welcome technology. But I believe also that we have a greater responsibility; that sometimes we must put our personal interests as secondary to those of the people who depend on us, our children and families.
We all know right from wrong; we must all make the personal choice to do the right, and take responsibility for that, even when it involves suffering or going without.
We must regain the lost legacy of our immediate ancestral past, and re-attain the moral fortitude to live with honour. And thus we may see the return of “Family Values”, and of the decent society, which currently appears to be inexplicably lost, in a fog of selfishness, shallowness, and cynical legalese. Perhaps this will not be such
a bad thing.