Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
June 24, 2002
Time to reset our moral compass
Canada celebrates its 135th birthday next week. It is a time when this nation is as confused and rudderless as at any time in its history. Self-interest is the religion not only of many people, but also of the so-called leaders of our society.
We are in a moral morass.
We can see that in the Chretien-Martin affair where power is the only goal and the good of the nation must take a backseat at least until these two duke it out. We see it in the attitude of Alliance leader Stephen Harper who, when criticized for saying Atlantic Canadians have a "can't-do attitude," extends his criticism to the nation as a whole. Canadians are "defeatist" because we have tried to ensure that the weakest in our midst still have the basic necessities of life.
We can see our moral morass in the plagues of marriage breakdown, abortions, lotteries and casinos, routine tax avoidance and, generally, the effort to get something for nothing. Although Harper would have us believe this attitude is reserved to the poor and unemployed, it finds its peak in those who make their money through speculation or stock options, or who get rich without contributing to the common good.
In the 20th century, there were world leaders who destroyed nations. There were also many who strove to build strong countries. The greatest of the latter group was perhaps Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi said there are seven deadly sins that can destroy a nation:
Focusing on eradicating all of those "deadly sins" will give us a different sort of national leadership and a different Canada. We will move beyond the fruitless left-vs.-right controversies that have our nation - and our world - going nowhere fruitful. We will see that economic revival springs from spiritual revival more than from the right fiscal policies.
Start with just one of those deadly sins - the most "religious" one - worship without sacrifice. A dying nation or a dying Church will treat religion as what's in it for me. It may strenuously seek the perfect piety, but see no connection between that piety and sacrificing so that others may live better.
Or look at the sin of "education without character." We sometimes settle for a values-free education that does not pass on the moral truths that have been so crucial to human development. We value the intellect, but pay little attention to integrity or human dignity. So we hold casinos to pay for computers and other educational "opportunities." But are our schools, for all their technological wizardry, any better than those in Third Nations where children - 50 to a class -- write with chalk on a slate?
The sin of pleasure without conscience rears its head when married people cheat on their spouses, abortion is a quick fix for teen pregnancy and opulent parties are a common occurrence while countless are homeless. The consequences of pleasure without conscience are millions of broken hearts and a vast gap between rich and poor.
When we reflect on Gandhi's seven deadly sins, it becomes clear how we are coasting as a society and headed for a downfall.
Overcoming those sins will amount to nothing less than the reconstruction of society. That reconstruction will show itself in a revitalized Church, vastly reformed politics, ethics-based approach to business, radical changes in the educational system, and deep-rooted personal repentance and reform.
As Canada hits 135, left and right are tired and out-of-touch ideologies.
What we lack are the structures and courageous leadership to help our nation move toward a new, healthier way of life.
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