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Civility, ethics and morality

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Published on Mon, Nov 2, 2009 by BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR

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Three level 3 sex offenders have moved into Lake Stevens, one of those living in a home with other offenders. A current drug bust in Granite Falls has created a stir with hopes of more coming in the future. All of this in just the last three months and that only accounts for our community.

All over the news and internet we are consistently bombarded with stories and images of murders, rapes and other horrendous crimes going on all over the world.

These images often make us stop and wonder what has happened to humankind, where is the civility, the morality and the ethics?

An ethical person knows that it is wrong to cheat on their spouse, but a moral person would never cheat on their spouse. This may be a simple way of differentiating between the two, but both are important when it comes to moral discipline.

“By ‘moral discipline,’ I mean self-discipline based on moral standards,” D. Todd Christofferson said. “Moral discipline is the consistent exercise of agency to choose the right because it is right, even when it is hard. It rejects the self-absorbed life in favor of developing character worthy of respect and true greatness.”

Christofferson also warns us of the changes in society and moral obligations over the past decades.
“The societies in which many of us live have for more than a generation failed to foster moral discipline,” he said. “They have taught that truth is relative and that everyone decides for himself or herself what is right. Concepts such as sin and wrong have been condemned as ‘value judgments’.”

Is this the type of society that we want to live in? A society where my values may be on a completely different scale than those of my neighbors?

When we no longer have the expectation that we will be safe from harm by someone else, law enforcement has to meet those expectations by interceding on our behalf. In many instances, the help is too late for the crime has already been committed and the hurt has already been done.

“Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become,” Walter Williams said in a Deseret News editorial last April.

Almost 20 years ago, another writer in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal wrote:
“The United States has a drug problem and a high-school-sex problem and a welfare problem and an AIDS problem and a rape problem. None of this will go away until more people in positions of responsibility are willing to come forward and explain, in frankly moral terms, that some of the things that people do nowadays are wrong.”
It’s time that we as civilized human beings step up and take responsibility for what is taught in our homes, what happens in our communities and what type of example we are to those around us.

Children need to be taught at home, at school and at church the difference between right and wrong and the consequences to not only them but to those around them.

Only a small majority of people actually commit the majority of the crimes and if we stand together and fight for civility and morality we can continue to live in a community where caring and human kindness are a top priority.
Change can be made one person at a time, let that person be you.
As Gloria Anzaldua said, “I change myself, I change the world!”

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