In a 1948 Armistice Day address, General Omar N.Bradley said, "We have too many men of science, too few men of God. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. Humanity," he said, "is in danger of being trapped in this world by moral adolescence."
Where are values going ?
At one time values were handed down from generation to generation. Now these same values are disrespectfully pushed aside as not in vogue. Each one has his 'beliefs', decides what is right for him, does his own thing. Sex before marriage is expected, divorce an easy way out, and child beating an accepted crime. The consequences - the soaring teenage pregnancies, the millions of abortions, the ruined lives of innocent children.
The watchwords of modern times are hatred, pleasure seeking, and lying. Society has become covetous, boastful, unthankful, without natural affection, truce breaker, infidel, traitor. Dishonesty has become a way of life.
Newspapers and magazines daily saturate the public with tidbits of 'high up' sex scandals, ballot box fixing, heart rending child abuse, wife battering, sale of arms to proclaimed enemies…. the list goes on.
Of course, there is no blame. And since there is no blame, there is no guilt. With no guilt there is no concrete answer, and thus the situation steadily deteriorates in an unchecked surge across the globe.
The world over people in droves have imbibed the free living doctrine. For them there is no right and no wrong. Everything is accepted as a part of high-tech life. Theirs is an anything goes philosophy. What goes are the restraints - then the woes flood in.
A decade back, a prominent American magazine headline asked, "A Nation of Liars?" It followed up with the lines. "Government officials dissemble. Scientists falsify research. Workers alter career credentials to get jobs. What's going on here? The answer, a growing number of social scientists fear, is an alarming decline in basic honesty."
The following headline appeared in the New York Times: "Public officials around the State accepted 105 out of 106 bribes offered," the F.B.I. says. Was the 106th bribe offered to an honest man? No. "He didn't think the amount enough."
It is now an accepted fact that bribes have become an almost essential part of every day life. The intensity of corruption is ludicrous. The rot has worked its tentacles into every corner.
Exam time in Gujarat is earning time for petty clerks in many schools. As students file out after exams clerks stand in the corridor offering to change papers for a minimal price. Parents of course with a quick word in the ear of their child quietly slip bank notes into his hands.
Novelist Jane A Michener gives the overall conclusion, "The 1980's will have to be remembered as the Ugly Decade, because so many distasteful things have surfaced." And all because of one solitary development: True values have been tossed into the dustbin.
Who or what is to blame?
William J. Bennet, former U.S. Secretary of Education, criticised the failure to teach moral values in schools and itemized teenage problems that result from this omission:
"Item: Some forty percent of today's 14-year-olds will be pregnant at least once before the age of twenty, and more than half of those births will be illegitimate.
"Item: Teenage suicide is at a record high, and is the second leading cause of teenage deaths.
Item : The United States leads the industrialized world in the percentage of youthful drug users.
"Can our School 'solve' these problems? No. Can they help? Yes. Are they doing as much as they can to help? No.
"Why not? In part, because they are reluctant to address one of the chief goals of education: moral education. Take, for example, a recent article quoting several New York area educators proclaiming that 'they deliberately avoid trying to tell students what is ethically right and wrong.'
The Family Unit, once a closely integrated compound of human beings respecting and loving each other is fast disintegrating. This has resulted in their becoming impotent as far as the teaching of values is concerned.
The splintering of the family makes it a barren school room; both parents chasing careers, divorces, single parent families with the parent struggling to make ends meet, children disposed of with unconcerned sitters of day-care schools, or alone at home with T.V. as a bloodless companion advertising immorality for fun and showing violence as a solution to problems and theft to poverty.
Normon Podhoretz comments on the results:
"These effects include a rise in criminal behaviour, a rise in drug and alcohol use; a rise in teenage pregnancy, abortion and venereal diseases, and a jump in the adolescent death rate from violent causes (homicide, motor vehicle accident, suicide). The only thing that seems to have declined is the level of academic achievement."
Sociologists are finding hard statistical evidence for what we all know simply from looking around us - knowledge divorced from ethical conduct has no value. Albert Einstein had this to say for education, "It is essential that the student acquires an understanding of a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and morally good. Otherwise, he with his specialised knowledge more closely resembles a well trained dog than a harmoniously integrated person."
It is becoming increasingly evident that more and more people are being won over to the 'self fulfillment' brigade. Fewer and fewer people are found who believe in sacrificing themselves, or even their own convenience, to the needs and demands of their children.
Philosopher and statesmen, Dr.Radhakrishnan, beautifully summarizes, "If the world is today in a perilous condition, it's because it knows little about the central question of the values of life, of philosophy, and religion, which it pushes aside as empty notions and mere fancies."
The tossing away of true values has left the world in a hapless pursuit of more of everything. Right in things but poor in spirit man is left floundering and without a life raft. His rescue lies in a return to the source of true values, meaning, to his traditions, scriptures, holy men and places of worship.