I am sick.
Not physically ill. I couldn’t classify it as a spiritual malaise, as it is not exactly a crisis of faith. Rather, I am sick because I have been infected by the germs of society which has regressed to a point where corrupt individuals are in positions of influence. Not politically corrupt per se, but something much deeper. Corruption of morals and ethics. It starts in the heart, where it is created into action. And when said action can be carried out without consequence, more follow. And such actions become accepted as the norm. The ones who do not follow, who insist on doing what they believe to be ethical and honest and would like others to do so are regarded as rigid, legalistic, overbearing, goody-two-shoes, etc. I’m not claiming that I am an unerring person who should be listened to. Everyone makes mistakes, and we all do things that bring us shame. The depravity of our generation (and perhaps the one before that as I believe this is an affliction that has been with humankind since the fall of Man) is to refuse to accept our shame and repent, to convince oneself that their actions are perfectly justified. The failure of Man is to accept that we have the capacity for failure, that we have too much pride to admit the error of our ways and tend to counter-reprimand a person who checks our behaviour.
A mass cheating case in the University of Central Florida is a prime example of the malfunction of the moral standards in society today. It was deduced that one-third of the class had cheated on the test. One-third! In the words of the professor who issued the ultimatum for the cheaters to step forward, “If you look to your left and to your right, one of them cheated on the test”. How often do we discover the dishonesty of someone but are reluctant to reveal it to higher authorities for fear of ostracism? That’s the state of ‘community’ today.
The lack of ethical behaviour is also evident not by what we do, but what we do not. Paul in James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (Holy Bible, NIV). Yet how many people today know what is right, but choose not to do it? Why do environmentalists seem to be fighting a losing battle? There is only so much environmentally conscious people can do, but we are reaching a point where we are preaching to the choir. A large majority of people simply do not care. It is not an issue at the forefront of their minds when they vote for the next leaders of their government. Many would protest if cuts were implemented that curtailed their high-energy consuming way of life, and vote the green activist politician out after his term. People only take up their arms strongly when the problem becomes uncomfortably close, as in the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. When the problem is sighted from far away and preventive measures could have been taken, it isn’t as real to people as the immediate but comparatively trivial issues. Opposition arises more from apathy than antipathy.
It’s a sad world where most of us are phony to each other if we want to maintain a modicum of cordiality. People who behave as-is usually exhibit behaviour and personalities that do not normally endear themselves to others. People tend to regard more highly the person who appears to be good at his job than the person who does his job well without showing it. It’s a sad fact that most people will make judgements based on what we see and rarely from corroborated facts. I myself plead guilty to bias and prejudice by jumping to conclusions about people’s character just from a one-time observation.
So people, in an effort to prevent the implosion of interpersonal relations in a social environment, tend to hide their revulsion at a person they dislike, instead spreading malicious gossip and denigrating comments about a mutual enemy. And once the opinions take root as fact, almost nothing that the person does can redeem himself in the eyes of the haters.
But what happens when the illusion of cordiality has been shattered by the truth? Wikileaks has disrupted the diplomatic status quo, as the barely tactful – and sometimes uninformed – opinions of politicians towards other countries are revealed. On a societal level, Facebook has been like Wikileaks for many of us as we find out more things about others than we would care to know.
Both closedness in social interaction, which leads to toxic and poisonous social environments, and the openness that leaves our faults and flaws barenaked to the world, seems to fail to in creating a cohesive society. It is oft said that lies are the glue that hold society together, but it is a faulty glue which simply causes society to fragment into pieces. If we really want to keep people together, a better social glue is forgiveness. When I are more willing to forgive the lack of tact a person may have towards one of my characteristics, and the other person willing to forgive my retort in defense, we can have a friendship without subterfuge and pretentiousness. I believe that hate and separation caused by prejudice and misunderstanding can be resolved when we realise that rarely is our first impression of a person accurate, and usually not complimentary.
I truly yearn for sincerity in my interactions with people in my workplace and elsewhere. But sincerity replacing deception in our world today is nigh impossible in our current society. Our dependence on deception to maintain a seemingly peaceful and unproblematic human system is leading to impending catastrophes on many fronts. Think about the implications of Wikileaks, the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy that caused the global recession, the ease with which students (who become the future scaffolding in the machinery of humankind) can cheat up to the university level and the extent of their willingness to do so, and the failure of the climate conferences to stem global warming. Many of today’s mammoth problems are caused at the root by apathy, the lack of moral integrity and ethicalness at each and every one of our hearts.
How does one describe my feeling of sickness? Perhaps another way to put it would be ‘losing faith in Humanity’.
Truly, the selfishness of Man is a malevolent disease.