Monday, April 05, 2010

Arresting the moral decay

Morality, a matter of perception?

One of the greatest worries of parents, teachers, religious institutions and the government today is the declining standards of morality in society. This is not just in Malaysia but a disturbing trend throughout the world.

Recently I was appalled at the opinion expressed by a young woman in her twenties on a number of issues related to morality. According to her she does not see anything wrong ‘going steady’ with an already married man or ‘snatching’ him away from his wife and children. She does not see adultery and divorce as being morally wrong. A quick survey would indicate that this young woman is not an exception as there are many young people who share her views.

Today staying together before marriage is no more frowned upon as it used to be in the good old days. A friend narrated the shock of his life when his daughter introduced her boyfriend at the breakfast table one morning. She had brought him home late the night before without his knowledge.

Pornography which was a real taboo before is being openly circulated without much fear and guilt. Raids on vice dens have become so common that they cause little shame for those caught in such places. It is deeply distressing that what we were taught as terribly wrong when we were young has become totally acceptable as norm by the younger generation of today.

Morality may be subjective but divorce and adultery are vices that are despised by all major religions of the world and it is disturbing that despite claiming to have become more religious we seem to be becoming an increasingly more promiscuous society where sex has become a casual affair.

Not only divorce and adultery but sex outside marriage, group sex, abortion, sodomy and even incest that was strongly forbidden and considered as grievous sins before are being accepted as norms in our society today. Sex parties have become a way of celebrating certain occasions especially New Year for our youngsters. Divorce has become a necessity these days to safeguard the peace and tranquility of an individuals who gets into dispute after marriage. The high rate of divorce that is so easily obtained these days for the most trivial excuses is totally destroying the sanctity of marriage and the family unit.

The family unit which used to be the main source of happiness is slowly but surely becoming disintegrated. The moderating influence of the elders in the family is slowly fading resulting in the high rate of immoral activity, crime and neglected elderly parents in our society today.

What has gone wrong? As parents, teachers and religious leaders why have we failed to instill basic moral values in our children? We take them regularly to places of worship, we pray together in the house, we read the holy books and preach morality to others but why are our children going astray? Are we being the right role models for them?

We tend to blame the internet for the declining morality in society today. It may be true but what are we doing to reduce the undesired effects of the internet on our youths? Internet is here to stay as it has far more beneficial than bad effects and it cannot be eliminated for whatever reasons. We have reached a stage where we cannot imagine living in a world without internet.

We have no choice but adapt to live with the internet. What is more important is to educate our young to attain a discerning mind whereby they can differentiate good from bad. It may be an uphill battle but what choice we have as parents, teachers and religious leaders other to try our best.

The influence of religion in the lives of the young may also be fading as these institutions of morality have become more obsessed with form rather than substance. As followers we have become more interested in observing elaborate rituals to attain rewards in the life after rather than following the true teachings of our respective faiths to interact with one another in a more humane manner. Instead we seem to have subtly involved in a war to prove our religion is more superior to others and in the process triggering inter-religious ill-feelings and conversions.

In the fight against the moral decay it is important to ensure that as elders we are ourselves clean and morally upright. If we want to stand a chance to succeed in combating the evil influences of modern technology we have to lead by example not by preaching as experience shows nobody really follows what we preach. Leading by example has the most profound influence on our children. It is the most important measure but it is also the most difficult to follow.

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