“Our country has lost it's morale compass along with it's leadership and if you think Jeb or Hitllary are the solution then you are mistaken.” [sic]
- Anonymous, 4/22 12:36PM, The Romney Strategy, Stonekettle Station
Our country has lost its moral compass.
You hear that a lot these days.
Moral compass. Any discussion of crime or patriotism or guns or the current generation or gay rights or women’s health or voting reform or taxes or politics will eventually lead to the moral compass statement.
Our country has lost its moral compass.
Listen, as soon as you say to me “the country has lost its moral compass" you and I are done talking.
Because you are engaged in a logical fallacy, a fantasy of your own making, and while that may be your right, it’s my right not to participate in your delusion.
The United States does not now have, nor has it ever had, a "moral compass."
We haven’t lost ours, we Americans, we never had one.
Morality is for people, not nations.
The very notion of a national morality is counter to liberty; it is tyrants and the totalitarianism of theocracies and ideologues which attempt to impose morality on the citizenry by force or threat.
Who decides what is moral and not moral? The howling mob? Politicians? Celebrities? The media? Pundits? Religion?
Morality is a human condition.
In a free society, morality must always be an individual choice. Always. Even, and especially, if others chose differently from you.
Free people decide for themselves what is moral and what is not.
Morality is a reflection of civilization, not the other way around. As such, morality will, will, change over time, it will evolve.
Morality is not an absolute, not now, not ever.
For example, most – not all, but most – Americans consider slavery immoral today, but that was not always so. Most of us would say murder is immoral, but we have a long list of when killing another human being is okay, moral, even if illegal.
Morality is always subjective. Always.
Freedom, liberty, means each of us decides what code we will follow.
Having a code of conduct imposed on you by government, by political affiliation, by religion, isn’t morality … it is only obedience.
Free nations are governed by law.
In the United States, we are governed by our Constitution, by a social contract created from reason and argument and compromise, updated and modified and amended as necessary.
By definition, each person who agrees to live under that compact must make certain moral compromises and this, this right here, is the definition of a free civilization. If all three hundred and fifty million Americans embraced the same morality, the same ideals, thought and believed the same way, they wouldn't be free human beings, they'd be robots.
Governments are not moral.
Nations are not moral.
Government, nations, may behave ethically or not. They may act within the law or not. And those laws and ethics may or may not be based on generally accepted morality, don't kill, don't steal, don't hurt others, but such is the world we live in that sooner or later a government, a nation, will have to engage in behavior we as individuals find immoral.
A government may have to keep secrets from its people, it may have to lie.
It may have to put human beings to death and force others to live.
It may have to harm individuals for the greater good.
It may have to go to war. And war is always immoral. There is no just war. War is killing and destruction and horror even when it is for the best of reasons and fought with the noblest of intentions and for all the right reasons. But sometimes even the most moral nation is forced into it, forced to defend itself or others, forced to attack, forced to kill and maim and destroy, forced to take immoral actions.
For a free people, morality is and must always be a personal choice.
For nations, for government, morality is impossible. Government can only act ethically and within the law, adjusting both as necessary for survival.
"The country has lost its moral compass" is a dog whistle.
Here in the United States when you pull the thread on "the country has lost its moral compass" what follows, clanking and banging like a string of tin cans tied to a dog's tail, is thinly disguised racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear, bigotry, and nostalgia for the "good old days" when people who looked and thought just like you owned everything.
Every conversation that begins with "The country has lost its moral compass" always and inevitably ends with the only solution being the commenter’s religion. Always. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
And every single time you protest and tell me I'm wrong, as soon as you attempt to explain how "the country has lost its moral compass" you always plow through thinly disguised racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear, bigotry, and the good old days on the way to your religion. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Folks, today is no better or worse, morally, than any other day.
We haven’t lost our moral compass as a nation. We never had one to begin with.
And that’s a good thing.
We face problems as a nation, as a civilization, just as we always have.
The world is always going to hell, just ask anybody.
Attempting to impose your morality on the rest of us isn’t the solution.
It’s the whole damned problem.