On Ethical Foundations

The height that a structure can achieve is limited by the strength of its foundation. Therefore, I suggest that university students should be provided with a strong foundation concerning the true nature of ethics, where they come from, the role that one’s ethics play in virtually all of life’s decisions and the benefits of living according to a personal set of ethical principles or form of ethical reasoning. …ethics are our source of strength to resist the tyranny of the supposed consensus, the emotional draw of the mob, the intimidation of the collective and the pull of ignoble emotions. Only by holding a set of ethical principles inviolate can an individual have the strength and fortitude to walk the path less traveled. –National Association of Scholars

Every person who has been willing to stand against the crowd has had a strong ethical base from which to start. We marvel at the fortitude of someone like William Wilberforce, and his fight against slavery in England. He stood against the tide of a million men with little more than a conviction that slavery was wrong, and must be ended no matter what the cost. We go to the point of making inspirational movies about such men, in the hopes of inspiring millions.

But when you get to the base of what modern society teaches, we suddenly revert to the latest Barbie movie.

Teach your students that the choice of one’s set of ethics or manner of ethical reasoning is the free choice of one’s own standards of personal conduct and, as such, is the greatest act of individuality and freedom. … Beware that students often have difficulty grasping the concept of values, because they have not been encouraged to think freely about what they truly value above all else. This self-questioning should be part of learning about ethics.

To put this in plain words, “figure out what your dream is, decide on it, and then stick to it no matter what —this is the foundation of ethics and ethical behavior.” Marx was right, then, to stick to his dream of building a new collectivist society at the cost of millions of lives. Stalin was right to follow this dream through enforced famines, and imprisoning Americans who moved to Soviet Russia to help build factories and farms in gold mining operations in the Siberia.

All this teaches is that the means is always ethical, as long as you’ve “freely” chosen the end.

And we wonder what’s wrong with modern college education? With public schools? It’s not what you don’t learn that will hurt you; it’s not the lousy math education that really destroys a nation. A person can learn math when they’re 10 or 100, it makes no difference. What hurts is the idea that ethics are “freely chosen,” like a dream, and that as long as they are “freely chosen,” they are okay. That it’s okay to choose an ethic of “following the crowd,” as long as you’ve freely chosen it.

No wonder when the smallest crisis blows through our society, people fall like dominoes. To decry “situational ethics,” and then to state that your ethics should be based on the relationships you “hold most dear,” in the same article, just sentences apart —here we have a problem with simple clear thinking. But this sort of double thinking abounds in our culture; it is the darling child of our colleges.

There is one relationship on which you can really build any sort of ethics. A relationship with God. For the only way to build ethics on a relationship is to have a permanent relationship —and human relationships, particularly in the school years, are notoriously fickle and short lived.

As long as we are teaching this sort of nonsense in our schools, we can expect to see the continued decline of our society.

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