The remarkable thing about stories of good and evil is that everyone can identify who or what is good and who or what is evil. We can change these stories so that the characters are human beings and not gods or demons, and they will not lose any of their impact. Their message will still be the same. This proves that morality and virtue are not unalterably connected to religion. They are however bound to certain moral absolutes.
Is it merely coincidence that it is against the law to murder someone in Argentina and also in Korea? Or that theft is a punishable offense in both Saudi Arabia and Canada? Is it just an accident that people the world over agree on more things than they disagree?
It can’t be that simple. The preponderance of the evidence seems to say that there are certain things that are right for all people and other things that are wrong. Murder, rape, pedophilia, man/boy society, and cheating on your spouse are wrong. We don’t need the Bible, Torah or Koran to figure that out.
Today, we live in a country that is obsessed with its economic prosperity. We are comfortable enough to spare ourselves the rigors of moral striving. Same-sex marriages, eroding family values, ambushing innocent children in class rooms, elected officials with a fetish for underage kids, absentee fathers—these things cause concern but little more.
We proceed with the knowledge that American life will go on. We are confident that we are the greatest empire in the history of empires. This belief in the inevitability of our way of life breeds certain carelessness to the truly important stuff of life. This is the decadence that precedes the fall.
We need to continue passing the torch of moral excellence to our children so that, down the road, they may realize something greater than violence, sexual promiscuity, making celebrities out of a former Governor who had secret and openly gay liaisons while married, and disintegrating family values. For the true measure of our success is the world we leave for our children.
If we strive for the high ground of moral excellence, we will have improved the only corner of the universe that we can be certain of improving. And that is ourselves. If we do this, our morality will overflow from our own lives and trickle into the lives of others. And then, in quiet moments when we’re alone, we will suddenly realize that knowing the good, we have done it; knowing the righteous, we have served it, knowing the truth, we have embodied it.