Ethics, morals needed more than ever
Writer: Azmi Sharom
Published: Fri, 29 Mar 2013
SOMETIMES reading the news makes one rush to the bathroom for a long hot shower.
The feeling of being dirty demands nothing less than near boiling water and the strongest antiseptic soap.
The recent video showing apparent deep corruption in the Sarawak government should have caused widespread outrage on all news media.
Instead, apart from the internet news portals, we get nothing.
It is the same with political rallies that have participants calling for the death of an MP.
It is beyond distasteful, it is uncivilised and barbaric.
Or what about the viciousness against opposition political parties, with threats of violence punctuated with the throwing of eggs and sticks?
Again, the silence amongst the mainstream media is deafening.
And it is not just the media which seems to have abandoned their responsibility.
We hear nothing from the ruling party or from the agencies that are meant to protect.
It would appear that this country has degenerated into a mire of sheer hypocrisy, double standards and dishonesty.
What is particularly shameful about this situation is not the fact that it happens, after all corruption and thuggish behaviour has been around for a long time, but there seems to be not even a token sign of disapproval from the powers that be.
It is now clearly and obviously a case of “if you are with us and against our enemies, then nothing you can do is wrong”.
In a way I suppose this is a good thing because at least we get to see groups and individuals as what they are.
What is frightening to me is the possibility that even with such an exposure there is still apathy amongst the people and that to them it doesn’t really matter.
I hope this is not the case, and that there is still some sort of moral and ethical core in the peoples of this nation to see that such behaviour and the condoning of such behaviour is vile.
We are quite obviously a religious country.
There are buildings of worship scattered all over the place and religion holds a strong grip amongst all of the communities of Malaysia.
But what is the point of praying to God when such obvious sins are seen as “just the way it is”. Or it is overlooked because the one being attacked is “the other”.
Religiousness without morality is worse than useless, it is repulsive.
The real question then is, is it too late? Are we doomed to living in a lawless nation?
I don’t think so; it all depends on the leaders of the nation. And by leaders, I do not mean just political leaders, but community leaders, opinion leaders, and family leaders.
The tenor of this country has to change where ethics and morals once again become the backbone of the nation.
By ethics, I mean the way one behaves with others in the context of one’s individuality and one’s position in society.
By morals I do not mean cheap “moralism” of judging the private behaviour of others, but instead I mean a deeper more profound interpretation of a deep humanist and axial philosophy of right and wrong where the core value is the golden rule of not doing unto others what we would not like done to ourselves.
Note also that I did not say religion because I think that we have seen too often how religion can be used to disguise abhorrent attitudes and behaviour.
The name of God is so powerful and awe inspiring that it can hide a multitude of sins.
Conversely behaving in a manner that is ethical and moral according to humanist values leaves a person with nowhere to hide, for his or her actions are their owns and can’t be attributed to a divine power.
In other words, we need moral and ethical people at all levels of society, from the person on the street to the people in power.
We can’t do much with our fellow citizens, but we most certainly can with the people in power and it starts simply with this: if you can’t stand up against corruption, if you behave in a way that is against the rule of law, if you have no courage to stand up against barbarism, then you have no morals, you have no ethics and you have no business to lead.