There’s a tenancy to look through our own lenses and proclaim, “We are a morally superior community!”. Almost always this is accompanied by farcical levels of denial bout our community’s level of hypocrisy. It’s easy to manage because there’s always someone to compare to. For example, “I am better than a Nazi.” Good for you. I’m glad you’re not a Nazi. The trick is not making the second statement: “I am morally superior to people whom I think resemble Nazis.” That is much more common and there in lies the problem. We forget that your average Nazi didn’t start out as an average Nazi. They started out like you and me. The message being, under the right circumstances, we are all capable of being Nazis. Our “so-called” morality is so fragile.
We also like to say, “I’m morally superior to __________”. Maybe “Blanks” aren’t hard working enough. Maybe “Blanks” do too much drugs, and commit too many crimes. Maybe they’re always going to be poor and un-American. Better yet, it might be catching. “Keep them away lest we are run over by hordes of moocher “Blanks”. “As moral as we are, we just can’t take care of that many moocher criminal poverty-infesting ‘Blanks'”. We look over the world at all the “blanks” out there and we feel superior. This post is not about post-modern multiculturalism where morality is relative and we should all embrace the other at any cost (although, that would be a good post!). But it is the explicit condemnation of such beliefs not only on moral grounds but on utilitarian ones because the two are almost always the same in the long run.
But we don’t always indulge in our superiority geographically do we? We do this temporally as well. There is a temptation to point to a moral past and say, “We were better then. Those of us who are like are fathers, are better than those of us who are like our children.” We employ the old “to hell in a hand-basket” metaphor for the entire generation. There is a deep seated cynicism about the present and the future and this is wrong. Not just on the strength of my own moral opinions but through rank and base collection of data.
Divorce rates are at historical lows.
Crime drops to an all time low
Unintended Pregnancy is at an all time low
Abortion hits all time low (Liberals, I know how you feel about this one. Chill out for now)
Teen abuse of Alcohol and Cigarettes at an all time low
I’d love to report other things like spousal or child abuse are at lows as well, I certainly hope they’re dropping but the statistics are so bad and the culture has changed so fast that any historical comparison would be completely meaningless. For example, the military posted a 50% rise in reports of sexual assault and harassment in the last year alone. Obviously there hasn’t been an increase in actual assault, but just in the reporting. If sexual assault has been under reported by 50% OR MORE, then it makes it hard to draw conclusions based on previous data.
But what I can do is this link for post war advertisements.
How about spousal abuse? It seems to me there’s a remarkable lack of consent from Lucy to being spanked. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qup9lOPQfg
Jackie can be seen to be constantly threatening his wife to great comedic effect. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EpHzPzjUTY8
I can find countless more examples. If you consider the political, civic, social rights and opportunities we granted non white-men of previous generations, we are definitely improving our morality. This is not to make the opposite mistake as conservatives. We do not want to be complacent in our morality. There is still much humanity must learn about altruism, compassion and tolerance. But we should not despair over the failings of the human race. We should not let hatred over injustice consume us lest we fall into the “love the sinner hate the sin” fallacy that so many suffer from. Indeed I reference our history not to despair over our failings or to gloat over our success but to reveal the path. Our morality IS superior but it is so very fragile. Our history can be read as a struggle for spiritual enlightenment and we should embrace it even through set backs caused by fear and ignorance. There have been many and there will be more setbacks but we will move forward. It is inevitable.