Saturday, November 29, 2008

Culture Trumps All

What do these things have in common?

1. Robert Rubin taking no responsiblity for the catastrophe at Citigroup.

2. The obliteration of civlization in Oakland.

3. The recent election where both candidates pledged to give us hundreds of billions of dollars more goodies than we had earned.

4. The relentless attacks on the Boy Scouts.

5. The big 3 automakers and the UAW begging for bailouts from Washington.

Leave your answers in the comments.


Rose said...

I get what you are sayin' KT.

It's bizarro, everything good is bad, bad is good, the worse you run your life the more you will be rewarded, while those who do good get trashed and disrespected.

Pendulums swing. So the question is, will this reverse itself.

I see several things, one is that my parents' generation went to church. My dad spent three years in the seminary, planned to be a priest, til he met my Mom. He became a biology teacher instead. But we didn't go to church much past my first communion, and now we are a couple of generations down the road, my kids, and my siblings' kids have not been to church. We were still raised with many of those moral tenets, and I'd say my/our kids have been, too.

But many aren't. And as each generation gets farther and farther removed, the basics are lost. That which was the fabric of society. Morals. Behavior. Respect. Honor. And even though we have still managed to instill it in ours, that COMMON bond is not there.

That is combined with the fact that we want for very little. Despite all the noise about 'the poor' we are in fact very fat and healthy as a people. We no longer know where our food comes from, or what is real. And that further degrades that fabric of society. We have no common needs and goals, or least not ones that we see in that very real sense.

It's still there on personal levels, in families, and every one in a while in some communities, but societally, we have lost it. And in places like Oakland, for all intents and purposes, it's gone.

As a nation, we elected a man with no experience, based on some strange nostalgic yearnings for something we don't even remember, but wish we had.

It's depressing.

Anonymous said...


I agree with most of what you say, but there's one point I'd like to make: I'm not so sure that relating "morality" with "going to church" is a good idea. The problem I see is this: there are a number of churches that believe things that are clearly contrary to fact (the Young-Earth Creationist churces spring to mind). Children raised in these churches are also taught that all morality comes from their church. But, when they grow up, they see that their church is clearly wrong about the creationism (which said church is usually making a Big Deal out of), and then they start thinking, "but if my church is so wrong about this, why on earth should I take anything that they say seriously?" That's the point where the kid becomes your stereotypical "amoral atheist", claiming that nothing is good, morality is an illusion, and you might as well do whatever you feel like. I'm not conjecturing here, I've seen this happen dozens of times.

The thing is, this doesn't have to be a problem, because I think that morality *doesn't* have to be strictly from religion. Usually over time the "amoral atheist" who used to be religious gradually realizes that a lot of the moral precepts that they were taught actually *are* valuable in their own right, and as they get older most of the ones that I have met revert to being decent people. KT has kind of approached the answer a number of times before: if you don't have honor, responsibility, and a solid respect for the "golden rule", then society collapses. I say that, therefore, anyone who values society is obligated to try to be as honorable and responsible as possible, and to treat others as they themselves would be treated. Anyone who does *not* value society, on the other hand, either needs to go along with this, leave society (I understand there are lots of nice, remote areas in Alaska and Wyoming where one can get away from it all), or be dealt with harshly by the rest of us.

I freely concede that this is not perfect, but neither is anything else, and doesn't have the failure mode of "kid-loses-belief-in-God-and-so-feels-obligated-to-become-amoral-scumbag". It does work well enough, most of the time, as long as most of us pull together to make it work, and keep the sociopaths from tearing it all apart.

Mostly Nothing said...

Don't relate fringe groups with mainstream.

Try going to a normal church. There's politics in all of them. Try main. Stop using the excuse that it's the only day you can sleep in. Sleep in on Saturday, after the kids are grown.

My kids are growing up right. Sunday school, Confirmation, Private Lutheran School. And are excelling in Boy Scouts (Life Scout before age 14, Eagle in a year or so).

I'd rant more, but I'm off to church. I'm running the Video portion. For a change just at 1 service, in stead of three.

Stop being part of the problem. And set an example to the right way.

K T Cat said...

Wow! Those were some strong and well-considered responses. Thanks! Here's my take.

I come down on the side of religion. Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal. In the absence of an objective, unmoving moral code, he will rationalize anything he wants to do. I'm sure Robert Rubin and any street punk from Oakland you like can both give you perfectly self-consistent moral explanations for their behaviors.

Those explanations work because they have been able to create their own internal moral codes wherein their faults are less important than faults others have.

"I work some of the time. Being lazy's not as bad as stealing."

"I turned quite a profit for the company for a time. I have a right to be well-paid for that profit."

If your moral code comes from you, how likely is it that you will really deal with your faults?

Finally, the point that some churches are totally out there is well taken. Having found yourself in one, there are plenty of others to try instead. Catholics don't give a fig about Creation or evolution. They are immaterial to the mission of the Church. Fortunately, I'm a Catholic. (Lutherans are in big trouble, by the way. All those coffee and donuts down in the church hall. You're doomed, I tell you, doomed!)

Had I been born into a fundamentalist church where they teach the 7-day creation story as fact, I'd have real problems, too. I probably would have stormed out and become an atheist as well. I have sympathy for such folk.

Rose said...

I pretty much agree, Tim - like I said, I don't go to church, but my morality is pretty strong, and it is self-imposed. Morality doesn't come from Church, but some of the God-fearing checks are taught there.

My kids have it too, Mostly Nothing, you would find they are very similar to you - honest, hardworking, compassionate, and able to stand strong against pressure.

My neighbors across the street where dedicated Mormons. They also had a strong moral ethic (and way too many hours dedicated to the church.)

At one point I noticed that the way we raised our kids wasn't that different - except for the going to church part. I'd even argue at times that mine were more moral because it was by choice, no fear or forcing involved.

I guess the question is going to be - how will my kids raise their kids.

The Church, though, is what has been largely responsible for that honor, responsibility, and a solid respect for the "golden rule" - I'm not sure what happens if we lose that.

Obviously some churches are very bad and very destructive - Islam, killing women and butchering its own people come to mind there, it's like a cancer.

I don't know the answers - but I will say the more i see religion (the good ones, here) attacked, the more i feel a need to defend them. I can understand fighting from the catacombs.