Sat, 25 Feb 2012 Feature Article

Political Morality Myopia

Political Morality Myopia

In this article, I examine the subject of political morality myopia. I consider it apt to take a break from working on a few publications in order to address this subject to the best of my ability. I once came across an assertion by the American historian, Henry B. Adams to the effect that: “Morality is a private and costly luxury.” Though I initially dismissed this statement as absurd, I reluctantly found myself not only discerning some form of wisdom in it, but also saw its manifestation in practice. Hopefully, this discourse will unearth reasons for one to be in acquiescence.

Accordingly, it remains cardinal that I build a premise for my argument to ensure a lucid presentation of ideas. In view of this, I commence by defining morality and myopia. First, morality has been defined as the quality of being moral. It has to do with conformity or a degree of conformity to conventional standards of moral conduct. Further, it encompasses a system of moral principles or an instruction or lesson in morals. Secondly, the word myopia, which from ophthalmology refers to a condition of the eye in which parallel rays are focused in front of the retina with objects being seen distinctly only when near to the eye, being nearsightedness, has come to be associated with lack of foresight or discernment, in other words a narrow-mindedness.

Consequently, morality myopia encompasses a narrow-mindedness relating to the conformity to the rules of right conduct which embraces moral or virtuous conduct. As far as I am concerned, I strongly believe that morality is (or should be) morality whether it's in politics, social or even in a church setting. However, reality suggests there is a developing notion of political morality either explicitly or implicitly.

Notwithstanding the struggle to agree on a perfect moral code acceptable to all, there is still faith and support in what most people agree as an existent moral code either stated or unstated. On the contrary though, some may argue that everybody has, not only their own sort of understanding, but also their opinion and choice of what is right or wrong. However, that may be dismissed as being a perceived right or ideology rather than an established truth. Was that to be held as absolute truth, then standards, rules or laws would themselves be redundant considering the capricious choices of humans. Furthermore, nations would not need constitutions as everybody becomes a law unto themselves; everybody formulates laws as deemed fitting to them.

In a slight digression, I am tempted to think that one may wonder why I am even spending time writing this article and what my motive is. I have been perusing some of the stories breaking and the comments that people have been making. It appears people seem to be analysing issues through either the “red, white and blue” or the “green, white, red and black” spectacles. It comes therefore as no surprise that their views are coloured and hence the blatant display of their myopic assessments.

The tricky question that we need to ask ourselves is where the boundary between our political leanings and critical thinking should lie. It is increasingly palpable that when stories break, most assessments of facts are bereft of a smidgen of critical analysis. It occurs then that just because someone is from a particular party either in government or in opposition, they find it expedient to clearly twist issues under the guise of political spin. Such spin is carefully carried out to throw dust into the eyes of the masses.

In practice, such people see grey and craftily refer to it as either a shade of white or a shade of black. They even refer to a spade as a large spoon not meant for culinary purposes. Their motivation stems from what this article describes as political morality. As an extension, such people decide what is right and wrong depending on who is doing it. For them, political morality is party specific hence what they would bemoan if it were done by members of an opposing party would be very much condoned by them if done by their own party members. To such, what is good for the goose is only good for the goose and not the gander.

This is something that I think has been going on for a while and has gained momentum lately, leading me to wonder what kind of people we are. One would expect that despite the fact that we support a particular party, we would still be in a position to recognise if the actions of the party are morally inept, bankrupt or corrupt. Additionally, that if a matter is execrable; it ought to be judged as such and not twisted under the guise of political expediency in view of either garnering political capital or damage limitation.

Contrary to what some politicians think, not all the masses can be fooled. Like it has been said, you can fool some of the people some of the time and perhaps all the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time. That is a thought worth considering.

We as a people must start finding ways of critically analysing and assessing issues and looking at the facts of the matter to the very best of our ability. Just because we are in favour of a particular political party should not make what is wrong seem right.

Unfortunately, I have observed that this same political morality myopia seems to spread to other areas of our lives. This may explain why when someone connected to us does something that is flagrant, we seek to find a way round it, or when somebody from our tribe does something wrong, we seem to condone it but cannot stand it when the same action is done by someone else from another tribe.

We should pause and ask ourselves, where is the plumb-line? Do we really subscribe to the widely held view of morality or do we make the rules as and when they seem good to us. This matter of political morality myopia is really pervading the fabric of our nation. The evidence is not farfetched with all the increasing media outlets available to us. In looking forward to the elections, I shudder to think that our own idea of political morality and not morality itself would influence us to choose a candidate who may not be up to the task but just because we think we support that party.

No matter how much we might want to sweep some issues under the carpet, the matters of morality cannot go away. How we assert that we do not care about the personal lives of people who lead us, as long as they can do the job! Well, why do we get up in arms when the very same people abuse our confidence [suffrage] by either failing to deliver on their promises or exploiting the nation's resources?

A nation that has voted or votes for morally bankrupt leaders has no business bemoaning the moral decadence of its electorates and nation in general...after all, birds of the same feathers flock together. It is also worth drilling home the point that there is nothing like “my morality” and that what is morally inept is exactly so, no matter how disguised it may be or passed off as.

In conclusion, I remain mindful of the elusive nature of morality and despite the fact that we may disagree on some nitty-gritty, the idea of our moral code remains. Hopefully, there are some critical minds out there who would be daring enough to discard their “red, white and blue” or “green, white, red and black” political blankets and show some real guts and cease from being snollygosters. The trumpet is sounding for some politicians, “arm-chair politicians” and “media politicians” to desist from political morality myopia. Such would surely be salutary to our increasingly stale political environment of a nation.

Dr. Frank Robert Silverson is the author of several online articles covering different subjects. He is an author with a knack for tackling issues that polarise opinion. He aspires to bring an objective insight to such topics. Dr. Silverson has written three books about to be released titled; Don't Lose It! The Golden Seven, and Contemporary Thought and Insight.
Email: [email protected]

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