Morality and the American Society
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Morality and the American Society
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines morality as either a code of conduct put forward by a society/ some other group such as religion/ accepted by an individual for her own behavior or a code of conduct that, given the specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.
Although other institutions in the society and the influences of culture are considerable factors in characterizing morality, religion’s stand on it is the most rigid and significant as majority of the people are associated with it in one way or another - Morality and the American Society introduction. Data shows that there were 224,437,959 Christians and 3,995,371 Muslims in the United States in a survey conducted in 2001, making up more than ¾ of U.S.’s population (This does not include other religions that also include morality deeply with their beliefs), showing the enormity of the constituents under its authority, demonstrating the potentials of religion’s power. It may be easy to think that the more followers an institution has, the more powerful it becomes. But now it appears that religion is losing its potency as an institution to a more liberal world, making these numbers of lesser worth- although this fact only goes as far as religion’s own characterization of morality is concerned.
Morality was once regarded by people essential to the totality of their being human- the soul that gives the body a purpose. This is understandable as the church at a time was at the peak of its influence and therefore had the ability to contribute greatly to society’s way of thinking. But as we progress, we discover more avenues in which we can learn more and at the same time be able to express ourselves more freely and would find religion of lesser use. Although religion is still an important aspect in our lives, it now becomes only a second priority. A large part of its influence becomes divided as we include these other avenues in our lives.
Now, the media- which happens to be one of these avenues is taking over their minds- the church, and inevitably the morality it teaches is slowly losing its ground.
People are now being more liberal. Their new points of view are affecting their stand on morality- which is the very fear of the church. People now see the church as an impediment to the true morality- the simple ability to judge right over wrong. They argue that the church is using it simply to infuse in them this fear of hell, limiting their ideas and desires, as well as to keep its authority over them- making morality obligatory when it is not at all necessary- for the people naturally tend to be moral with or without the church’s supervision..
The modern media is generally free from the restraints brought about by morality- the reason why it appeals more to people. It becomes the icon of the freedom they want to achieve- a model which they follow so that they can live in a more liberal world that will allow them to think and do whatever they want.
The television channels of today are more daring, and most times more arrogant as they bring the different facets of ‘reality’ to their audience. But this is an element that the viewers have grown to desire. Bad behavior and the use of verbal profanity are now being tolerated as the society become less and less conservative. Media is creating a new culture that both contributes to our development and at the same time hurt our values. It has and will be affecting our behavior and will in turn affect morality, and culture.
Cultures and the traditions are dying as globalization continues to permeate the society. People now seem to gladly adopt new things in their lives such as music, technology, fashion, etc., and as they do the core values they learned from their culture will be in danger of being lost.
Science which is another avenue that permits us to freely make use of our objective thinking also has its role in changing the society’s perspective on morality. Science puts forward the idea that morality is hardwired in our brains primarily because it is essential for us as individuals and as a part of the society. It is simply necessary for us to co-exist.
The future of morality is constantly being redefined considering the clash between religious traditions and the defiant views being put forward by our broader reasoning. Although the kind of morality that the church offers is now being oftentimes shunned, its very core is still without a doubt a big part in the people’s lives as it is integrated in our nature as humans, as what science suggests. It is therefore not a question of which is going to win, for it is certain that only views of morality will be changed. The ability for us to know what is right from wrong will never change.
But still, this does not mean that we can allow arrogance to rule us. We always have to think of the consequences of the things we do today as this will certainly have an effect in our future. We should not only think of materialistic progress, we also have to think of what makes us humans and consider it in our growth as a society.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Definition of Morality”,
Available from plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition, accessed 26 July 2007
Adherent.com, “Largest Religious Groups in the United States of America’,
Available from www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html, accessed 26 July 2007