“Decency” Under Attack


Ideas I have accepted unquestionably all my life are under attack. Not just in America but worldwide, “the people” seem to be rejecting my concepts of good and evil.

In America “the people” have chosen to follow Trump and the Republicans. And our new rulers are leaving no doubt about their path forward. It’s going to be the law of the jungle, and we can forget about such notions as liberty, equality  and fraternity.

In Britain, France and Germany, me-first jingoism is also raging. Even Canada and Holland are experiencing an upsurge of right-wing populism.

I am left wondering why “the people” would cast aside decades of hard won benefits to engage in a bare-knuckle, winner-take-all battle for survival.

But when I think about it, why shouldn’t they?

Where did the notion of government “of the people, for the people and by the people” come from. anyway? Who says we have to be fair? Who made us our brothers’ keepers?

Why is it praiseworthy to share your good fortune and shameful to be a miser? Why love your neighbor? Why treat others as you would want them to treat you?

In my case, the answer is simple. Because Jesus told us to. He admonished us to be good Samaritans, to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, to be kind to our enemies and treat everyone like brothers and sisters.

I don’t claim to be a good Christian. That would be absurdly presumptuous. But I would like to be. And I admire those who are – the late, sainted Mother Teresa (above, right), Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis (below, right), to name a few.

Of course, Christianity has no monopoly on decency. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, was a Hindu. And there are many from other religions who lived selfless and exemplary lives but never made the headlines.

Humanists also embrace the concepts I consider “decent.” But I suspect there’s a religious influence at work there somewhere. I believe it is religion that shaped the thinking I consider laudable.

Ironically, it is religion, too, that has led to some of the most horrific atrocities throughout history – the shame of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Oliver Cromwell, Bloody Mary….

And it is religion – corrupted religion – that has spawned ISIS today.

But, while it is surely the most barbarous, ISIS is not the only example of religion being hijacked for the Devil’s work. Americans, for example, must beware of ideological extremists masquerading as messengers of the Almighty.

They are not as savage as ISIS, of course, but in the long run, they could do even more lasting damage to the world we leave for our children and grandchildren.