August 11, 2013
A satirist once said: Our phones are wireless; cooking is fireless; dresses are sleeveless; youth are jobless; leaders are shameless; relationships are meaningless; attitudes are careless; feelings are heartless; education is valueless; children are manner less; cigars are nicotine less; coffee is caffeine less; tyres are tubeless; infants are restless; laws are enforce less, religions are Godless; our actions are conscienceless.
Every time a crime is committed and reported online, a Pandora’s box of opinions gets blown open. In cases of rape, the worst possible comment are from people who may know nothing about the victim, but assume how revealing the victim’s clothes would have been, to making a derogative assumption of the kind of family the victim may have come from; to questioning the victim’s purpose of being at the place of the incident.
The reaction from some quarters after the recent incidence of rape of a medical student in Manipal was no different. The girl, who was subjected to horrendous suffering by three lustful youth, was a well-mannered individual. She never wore revealing clothes. It was not the first time that she visited the library to refer to books. With students’ hands full the whole day, it is not uncommon for them to visit the library late in the evenings. I know the girl because she is my next-door neighbour. Even if none of what I have said about the girl is true, no girl actually enjoys being raped and that is something many readers callously ignore.
No one can ravage another human being unless the conscience is dead, because it is this very conscience that sets humans apart from beasts. Albert Camus once said, “A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon the world.”
I remember during the schooling years of my generation we had a subject called “Moral Education.” I cannot recall my children bringing home a book on the same subject. In fact, largely there is little or no education in morals today. The CBSE English language text books alone are large enough to make teachers earn their salaries, not to mention the fat math and other books. So, there is no room for moral learning in schools. The same holds true in many homes. With both parents at work and so much school work to catch up on, there is no time for moral learning at home. Alarm bells start ringing only when the child enters college. A person without the encouragement of leading a moral life and without the fear of consequences can hardly be a blessing to the society. Thankfully, one loud exception is the catechism classes the Roman Catholic churches have for the young and it is compulsory in many churches.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker and historian, was fascinated by the progress America was making after her independence. In 1831, he travelled to America to find out how a nation that was only 50 years old make so much progress. What he discovered was that America was build not just on intellectual values, but importantly on good moral values. Every classroom had a copy of the Holy Bible and teachers honed in moral values into young students. Tocqueville once said, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair faults.”
Today, in America and other countries that were once built on moral codes, the school authorities will be taken to court if they try to introduce the Holy Bible to the students. Secularization entered with a dark veil through the back doors and over a period of time established a firm foothold. While communists drove God forcefully, secular thinkers began to drive God away systematically by intellectualizing and rationalizing everything. Today, so many nations are in a mess because secularization meant that laws stated in the holy books had no place in society. And so many youth are living in complete darkness, their souls seeking answers that have been systematically denied them by their mentors and parents.
With laws becoming more and more autonomous (making laws to suit one’s own taste), each person, depending on his ranking in society, began to set his own moral codes. What it meant is that I am happy with my neighbour as long as I don’t have one.
Most super-rich think that there is nothing wrong if their son has a little “fun”. After all, they reason, he is young and should have some fun. And it does not matter if part of the fun means ravaging an innocent girl’s dignity. Tell a girl it is wrong to have premarital sex and she will ask you what makes you think it is wrong. The retort is a reflection of a dead or dysfunctional conscience where pride supersedes all of God’s moral codes.
While handing out a sentence, judges in the old days would say, “I sentence you to three years in prison and I hope that this gives you sufficient time to examine your conscience.” With hardly any consequence from the law today, criminals have become fearless. Combined with the absence of a system almost devoid of moral teaching, you have individuals whose conscience don’t even prick them. Today, criminal lawyers succeed in convincing the jury that it was okay for the teenager to kill his parents, brothers and sisters because he had a bad childhood. The same criminal lawyers will convince the jury that the man on trial for hard core pornography was only depicting the human sexuality in an art form.
There was a time when homosexuals were not open about their sexual preference. Today, they are openly fighting for the legalization of gay marriage. They actually believe that it is not wrong because their motto is, “If it feels good, it cannot be wrong.” It is all about instant self-gratification. Who knows, some cults that are already engaged in sexual intercourse with animals, will one day demand the legalization of marriage between man and animal. And let’s not be surprised if they find someone to lobby for them in the higher echelons of the government, where the conscience of politicians have become numb with money and power. They have taken the place of God and are rewriting what God has deemed wrong.
Live-in relationships are on the rise and even legalized in many countries. When God and His moral codes were disowned by people, human laws become more and more corrupt and are today decided almost on the whims of those in power. No wonder the same countries that were once built on God’s moral codes are on the brink of disintegration.
The problem with such thinking is that we decide what is good and what is bad; and, it is precisely here that it gets dangerous. Look at some of what the “experts” have to say, when they decide what is good and what is bad: “Watching pornography can save your marriage.” “If it feels good, then nothing can be wrong with it.” “It is okay to have a fling with your colleague – as long as you don’t get caught.”
The reference for what is good or bad solely lies in the scriptures.
If you don’t believe in God, then you don’t believe there is such a thing as a moral law giver. Atheists with power made a great deal of effort to block out any concept of a moral law giver.
What happens when you have unprecedented power with no one to answer to? And, does it matter if you don’t have an army of your own to annihilate weak people you believe to be the scum of the earth, parasites that are meant only to be killed? History has provided the answer. Frederic Nietzsche was not a dictator; he was considered to be a brilliant thinker and philosopher, who during his time called out that God was dead. Ironically, his father was a priest and his grandfather was also in the church ministry. Somewhere down the line, Nietzsche began to intellectualize everything and held his own thinking supreme over everything else, and he viciously tried to convey that God, like all people in the graves, was also decaying.
Nietzsche’s writings greatly influenced Hitler, who personally took the writings and presented them to Stalin. Hitler, Stalin, and also Mao, Pol Pot, and other such leaders – all atheists – were the cause of the death of 130 million to 135 million people. Interestingly, it was Nietzsche himself who said that if God becomes dead to people, the 20th century will see anarchy and chaos. As it turns out, the 20th century saw more deaths from wars than all the previous 19 centuries put together. Ironically, Both Hitler and Stalin had religious backgrounds, but all those ideals were replaced with atheistic beliefs. No religious force, or belief of any other kind, has the dubious ‘achievement’ of causing the death of so many people. No one counts the number of people they left weeping in their murderous wake.
The bigger irony of Nietzsche’s life is that he spent his last 14 years in an insane asylum. His mother, a God-loving woman, spent most of her time at his bedside. For weeks Nietzsche would remain silent and then suddenly burst out with verses from the Holy Bible which he had memorized as a young boy. Somewhere deep inside, his soul was perhaps seeking comfort from the Creator.
Can the conscience completely block out any notion of God? When Mao burned one of the largest seminaries in China in 1966, he declared that with it God was being evicted from China and Christianity would never return to the land. Today, China is the fastest growing church in the world. It is estimated that close to a 100 million people have turned to Jesus.
Leaders like Stalin removed the name of God from every book, believing that by blocking out even the mention of God would remove God from people’s lives forever. What Stalin did not see is that people have sought a higher power even before any scriptures. Approximately 83% of Russians are Christians. Similar proliferation is being witnessed in other Eastern European countries that were once communist-ruled. It is evident that even during the toughest of times, the communist regimes could not keep God out of people’s lives. It would seem that God is necessarily in our genes. And so are His moral codes.
It is indeed true that when the conscience has become numb or dead, we can never recognize our faults. That being the case, how can we ever repair them? Tocqueville said it best, “When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.”
It is also true that both the believer and the atheist have God in their conscience. The believer goes about his life accepting God as his Creator; the atheist obsessively tries in vain to shake off the thought of God. Both have good consciences and both have the ability to choose between right and wrong.
Rich or poor, successful or unsuccessful, black, brown or white, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or a follower of any other religion, everyone hears a voice. The old saying, “A guilty conscience pricks the mind,” still holds true. The greed for money and power, and self-gratification appear to be the main reasons why we choose to ignore that pricking of the conscience.
Following God’s beacon is the only way to bring sanity back into this world and the only way to set ourselves free, because freedom without virtue is no freedom at all.
Oliver Sutari - Archives:
- Mumbai - A City Growing Numb?
- Photo Feature: Magical Karnataka
- Loneliness: The Dark Reality - 2
- Loneliness: The Dark Reality - 1
- We Adopted You: To Reveal or Not To?
- The Things We Say
- Wounds From The Womb...
- Restraint Above Reaction
- The Blame Game
- What are we Pursuing?
- Rekindling Love
- Sowing Seeds of Love
- Power of Human Will
- We Reap What we Sow...