Where have our standards gone?
Evidence of our decaying values is presented with monotonous regularity in our daily papers and on our plasma screens. We can witness cruelty and hate in high definition via YouTube or see ‘happy-slapping’ on our mobile phone.
It has to make you wonder what our world is coming to.
Now I know that people have done impulsive and foolish things since the dawn of time. It’s part of growing up and learning from good and bad experiences.
As a parent, you can only hope to equip your children with the correct decision making framework that will help them to make choices without catastrophic consequences.
Somewhere along the way, this goal seems to have deserted an increasing number of parents and the damage it is doing to young lives and our society could be permanent.
Many readers will be familiar with the boundary pushing and questioning of authority that characterise adolescence. Looking back, one hopes that others forget our youthful indiscretions on our journey to adulthood. In most cases this is true.
Less than a decade ago, few would have sent an abusive letter or email replete with profanity. The mere idea of including foul language in a written communication as a permanent record would be considered most unwise.
Yet today, the Facebook generation think nothing of attaching their name to vile abuse of those they know (or don’t). They join online groups in support of the most depraved and callous actions because they think it is funny, tough or mature.
And it’s not just adolescents. A surprising number of adults also email or post online messages of hate or abuse.
The fact that this type of behaviour rarely raises an eyebrow any more suggests that the social mores that have kept society civil and functioning are rapidly breaking down.
The evidence to support this surrounds us every day.
We are now a society that demonises smokers but seems to accept an illicit drug culture. Somehow it has become okay to sexualise five year olds through provocative dance videos but offensive to speak about Christianity.
Why is it that we defend the right of extremists to free speech yet remain silent in defending our own culture and society?
It seems the greatest public offence today is to actually speak out in favour of traditional values and virtues. In the name of progress and tolerance our moral code is now deemed relative with all views, no matter how divergent, being equally valid.
Well, at the risk of incurring the wrath of the moral relativists, I won’t subscribe to that theory. There is a clear difference between good and bad, and right from wrong. It is about time we started saying so again.
To remain silent will have potentially devastating consequences for our children and our society.
Cory Bernardi is a South Australian Liberal senator. His columns and essays are available at his website.