we measure the temperatures of a shuttle wing's
leading edge, the distances between a warship's
launch tube and a building in downtown Baghdad,
or the molecular weights of chemical toxins in
an Iraqi warhead (fictional example), we must
have a reference point, a standard relative to
which we make our measurements.
defined standards, we would obviously end up being
all over the place, and while everything might
have sufficient momentum to work for a while,
everything would not work very well or for very
long. This fundamental requirement of measurement
is also true for human morality, of course, where
we must have standards by which to measure the
moral content of our behavior.
standards, we would end up just like George Bush
the younger, able to rationalize tax cuts for
the rich because the economy is so good and tax
cuts for the rich because the economy is so bad,
without bothering himself a whit over how this
can hope to be logical, how this can hope to make
sense to everyone else. In other words, George
employs no standards at all outside of the rightwing
political standard, characterized by religious
absolutism and a self-righteous penchant for 'winning,'
no matter what the stakes, no matter what it takes.
George, as a 'born again' theist, turns out to
be devoutly agnostic with regard to human logic.
than anything, it is the absence of moral standards
that defines the current Bush administration,
that is, the people defining America's current
behavior in the world. America no longer measures
herself relative to an agreed-upon, definable
set of moral standards and we have, as a result,
lost all reference points for judging our own
behavior as a nation. Under Bush's standardized
rightwing dominion, no additional thought or input
from the people is required. George sees the people
as not needing to know the truth because, frankly,
the people are just not up to the complex tasks
which George and his cadre can so confidently
high moral standards is simply not part of George's
program. As a governor, for example, he set an
all time record for relishing executions. As a
president, he set an all time record for relishing
the denial of pardons, and yet George claims to
be more than qualified to speak as a born-again
'Christian.' George launched a pre-meditated and
unprovoked war on a virtually defenseless Iraq,
and yet George claims to be standing firmly on
the high moral ground with the Prince of Peace.
One might even conclude that the first Christian
was at least Republican, if not crony capitalist.
now, people, what does it take to get you to see
that there is something dreadfully wrong with
this picture? How on earth do decent, would-be
American 'Christians' tolerate this man who demonstrates
no knowledge whatsoever of nascent Christian morality,
the ethical morality upon which Jefferson based
the Declaration of Independence? If George did
know something about an ethical morality, it would
almost certainly show in his actions, not so?
What does show is more akin to Old Testament religious
belligerence and self-righteousness.
would, therefore, seem appropriate to consider
the traditional Western notions of morality in
the interest of doing some measuring of our own.
This would allow each of us to think for ourselves
and to measure George's actual moral position
on our own, so that we do not have to take George's
word for it. We can begin by considering the three
definable moral standards that have evolved, one
from the other, in Western culture, the most recent
appearing two millennia ago.
Christian Morality: Do Not Hit First, Do Not Hit
is one thing if I choose not to poke out your
eye because you have poked out mine. That would
exemplify nascent Christian morality, based in
compassion and a passion for peace. This is the
morality designed to end violence and make things
right, the morality which rejects vengeance and
the notion of 'getting even.' Nascent Christianity
is an ethical morality, based in human knowledge,
which recognized two millennia ago that vengeance
can inspire a vicious cycle of violence, in which
cause and effect soon become indistinguishable,
as exemplified daily in the Middle East. While
vengeance may make one momentarily feel that 'justice'
has been served, it also keeps the human world
in a living hell of continuous violence with war
as a way of life. Christian morality demands empirical
honesty, creative thought and compassionate action.
Religious Morality: Do Not Hit First, Do Hit Back
is yet another thing if I do poke out your eye
because you have poked out mine. That would exemplify
traditional Old Testament religious morality,
based in vengeance. This is the morality of the
victim, the morality of the self-righteous, the
morality based on lowering oneself to the level
of the criminal in getting even or securing dominion.
Religious morality demands only faith in a supernatural
god (preferentially on one's own side) and vengeful/self-righteous
Barbaric Morality: Do Hit First, Do Hit Back
is quite another thing if I poke out your eye
because I think that you might poke out mine.
That would exemplify barbaric morality, based
in the notion that might makes right. This is
the morality beneath pre-meditated, unprovoked
aggression, at the very bottom of the Western
moral hierarchy. Barbaric morality, in other words,
justifies violence in the name of covetness, and
is the equivalent of no morality at all.
unfortunately, is the ground upon which an intellectually,
morally and spiritually challenged Bush administration
has employed fabrication and falsehood to justify
an unprovoked war on Iraq. Now, think about that
for a moment with regard to the moral standards
we have just considered. Think about what the
Bush administration has perpetrated in the name
of the American people.
actions are certainly not Christian. They're not
even close, are they? Even worse, George's actions
are not even religious. There was no Iraqi violence
demanding religious revenge, was there? George's
actions are, in standardized human eyes, overtly
barbaric, a.k.a. criminal, a fact which has done
America no good at all in the eyes of the world.
George's actions were only religious in the sense
that he wrapped them up in religious self-righteousness
and patriotic fervor.
that we have re-established the evolutionary hierarchy
of Western moral standards, we can more clearly
see what the Bush administration has accomplished
in the interest of holding the 'higher moral ground.'
It has essentially dismantled what little was
left of Jeffersonian democracy and it has made
a mockery of the nascent Christian moral precepts
upon which Jefferson based his Declaration.
Bush administration has brought to fulfillment
the two centuries-long quest of the rightwing
for total political dominion of the American socio-economic
world. In doing so, it has brought America full
circle to reside once again upon pre-Revolutionary
Tory ground, imposed as always by those who would
oppress and exploit the many in the name of the
democracy is dead and gone and it is critically
important that we, as a people, come to that realization.
Otherwise, we will have no clue as to the nature
of thought and action required to make things
right again. One can safely conclude that we ought
be measuring ourselves, as a nation, relative
to the values of rights-driven democracy and not
the values of greed-driven capitalism.
brings us back to George and the moral standards
driving his administration. During the 1970s,
America downplayed the importance of values in
public education, as if the human race had learned
nothing in the past two millennia worth passing
on to our children. No, it was better for them
to learn values on their own. The underlying political
motivation for this approach was recognition that
values only serve to confound a freewheeling marketplace.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a 'value-free'
society and those who claimed otherwise were simply
holding 'no values' as their highest value.
same is true for Bush's standardized rightwing
morality. It essentially says that the highest
moral standard, if you are interested in political
dominion, is to have no standards at all.
© 2003 by the News Insider and Gerry Lower
Gerry Lower lives in Keystone, South Dakota. He
is published in the areas of molecular pathology/oncology/epidemiology,
medical theory/philosophy/ethics, and global philosophy
and ethics. Gerry has recently returned from Ukraine
where he presented several papers on the values
of science and democracy at the Kiev Medical Academy.
His primary concern is the development of a rigorously-definable
global philosophy and ethics suitable for a global
August 25, 2003