Through the press I have noticed the increasing comment that society has lost its moral compass. Politician’s entitlements have brought this to the forefront of the news. This follows the hot topic at the end of last year where reference was regularly made to the era of post truth. These changes point to the disappearance of primary values.
In our own society a common example of where this change has led to conflict is found in the great division over the issue of asylum seekers. The government has developed its policy ‘Sovereign Borders’ for various declared reasons notably the fear of terrorists entering our society.
THREE MORAL BORDERS
I want to suggest that there are other borders crossed in our country, the erosion of which, I believe creates a far greater threat to the health of our society than the crossing of our geographical boundaries. These additional borders became the very foundation for establishing the highest ideals of the modern moral quality of our society. Three documents stand out as capturing the highest ideal of life for all history at the time of writing. Once dismissed, a border to morality and values is eroded.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
The first border is generally regarded as the ultimate foundation upon which our society was established. The 10 commandments were the primary guide to the formation of the western society. It was certainly the foundation of the Judeo Christian societies which were the peoples from whom the western world grew. Generally thought to have emerged around the year 1200 BC within the Jewish community they mark a highpoint in the development of a covenantal type treaty typical of early civilizations. In this case, a covenant between God and the Hebrew people.
Over the following centuries the society developed to see the spirit that lay behind each command, as a beautiful summary of love for God, neighbour and self. By approximately 500 years before Christ an understanding of the dignity of all human beings across many societies, cultures and religions had developed in the conscious of people. In our day, the Ten Commandments are generally regarded as antiquated and irrelevant.
This great border of life has been crossed and without love a society is greatly diminished. We have nothing that has replaced it.
THE MAGNA CARTA.
In 2015, the western world celebrated the writing of the Magna Carta. It was a highly significant document addressing the legal relationship between the Monarch, Barons and ultimately the people. It was originally drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and agreed to by King John of Runnymeade. It has had a chequered history of understanding and application through its 700 hundred years history
Its importance can be seen in the underlying notion of the rights and freedoms of people in the eyes of the law in such a way to preserve the value of human beings, rich or poor. There has been a gradual change in the application of its charter in a way that erodes the high ideal of the value of all humans in recent times. It is an important border that society is crossing from such a high standard of human value to a more questionable one.
THE UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
As a result of the extraordinary tragedy of both world wars early last century, the United Nations had drawn up the great document of the Declaration of Human Rights and ratified in it 1948. Its premise is that the great ideal of human life is universal in application. It speaks of the inherent dignity of all members of the human family that it believes is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace throughout the world.
It includes civil and political rights, like the right to life, liberty, free speech and privacy. It also includes economic, social and cultural rights, like the right to social security, health and education. It is an expression of the fundamental values that are shared by all members of the international community. The great problem is that countries agree to this charter, but they arbitrarily abide by them as it suits them.
I’ve highlighted these three documents because in their time they aspired to the highest levels of human life at their time.
I could have gone on to include other inspirational documents or words of wisdom our human story carries, but for time and simplicity today I have drawn our attention to them for they marked the great moral borders that raised humans to their highest form of living. Sadly we find the human heart does not always allow us to fulfil the human ideal.
Once we let go of these borders of society then we lose our moral compass.
As Christians we should be particularly challenged by the confusing state of our dramatically changing society. The pathway forward calls us to examine our own beliefs ensure our own lives aspire to the great ideals of humanity. For our own assistance I return to the Ten Commandments. Not to be legalistic about them for our history has helped us to come to a deeper and fuller understanding of their purpose.
We find it helpful to recall its great summary that opens our mind to its very spirit, the call to love God and love our neighbour as itself. But then we can take one step further and recall Jesus our response to these documents.
‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.’
This beautiful picture from Jesus can be so liberating, for it touches us personally.
Society may not know the direction humanity must now take in our dramatically changing world, nor the direction to take. There are massive unknowns lying before us. But our Christian faith presents us with the ultimate foundation for living the human experience.
To love as Jesus loved innately carries
The moral compass
The heart of compassion
The mind of peace
The attitude that affirms the dignity of all.
This is our ultimate blessing.
Let us daily rejoice in its reality.