Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 30, 2003
Societal morality goes ballistic
Disappearing absolute values throw us onto shifting ethical sands
By SEN. DOUGLAS ROCHE
If ever there was a need for strong spiritual leadership to reaffirm the moral basis that public policies must be built on - that time is now.
This changed legal base of marriage certainly reflects a new set of values. This ethical shift is of the same sort that would allow embryonic stem cell research, yet another matter that is before Parliament. We have entered an age when new technologies and new claims for rights and freedoms are taking us into uncharted waters. What is all this doing to the right of the family as the foundation of our society? Where are we going as a society?
In the ballistic missile situation, we have the Canadian government now entering formal talks with the United States to determine whether Canada will participate in building the new defence system. It seems unlikely that Canada, having come this far, will say no unless there is an outpouring of public opposition.
Here again, there is a moral quandary. It can be argued that the government has a responsibility to protect the public against nuclear weapons attacks. So isn't it moral to construct a defensive shield?
The fact is that defensive shields always provoke new developments of offensive weapons. History is full of such examples. For a very good reason, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was inaugurated in 1972. But now we have entered a new era when the Bush Administration does not want to rely on treaties for disarmament, but wants to use its overpowering military force to impose a "Pax Americana" on the world.
Missile defence will inevitably lead to the weaponization of space. There is no doubt that technologists are preparing the way for the sanctity of the heavens to be the battlefield for the 21st century. In its rush to dominance, the U.S. is ignoring a basic fact that the only absolute guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons is their total elimination.
Thus the consequences of Canada's decision to join into a new military system have immense moral consequences. It appears to me that the government is moving with the sliding moral perspectives of our time.
Absolute values are now challenged and MPs and senators have to figure out what is right and what is wrong. The old signposts are gone.
The absolute definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman - the bedrock of society - is gone. The absolute value of disarmament under the rule of law is swept aside by renewed militarism that countenances preemptive attack.
Both of these issues show the shifting sands of our society. If ever there was a need for strong spiritual leadership to reaffirm the moral basis that public policies must be built on - that time is now. It sometimes seems to me that legislators are being asked to play God, and I don't like it.
(Douglas Roche, an independent senator from Alberta, is author of The Human Right to Peace, to be published by Novalis in September.
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