Monday, April 23, 2012

Doing What Comes Naturally

There's been a lot of soul-searching in the wake of the Secret Service and GSA scandals in which significant numbers of federal employees behaved dishonorably and with utter contempt for the taxpayers who employ them.

As awful as it is, though, we shouldn't be surprised at the behavior. A society which has declared traditional moral restraints and motivations obsolete and irrelevant shouldn't be shocked when people conclude that whatever one can get away with is okay and the only thing that's really wrong is getting caught. In fact, given the subjectivism and relativism they've been hearing all their lives, they're exactly right.

For four decades we've been scrubbing our public life of all vestiges of the only ground there is for objective moral duty. We've been purging our public spaces of any mention of any standard of moral value that transcends human arbitrariness and emotivism, and then we're disappointed when people behave in ways that are perfectly consistent with the loss of that standard. We shouldn't be. We should expect it, and we should expect that it'll get worse in the future.

As we watch the video of the GSA employees squandering our tax dollars on lavish frivolities with complete indifference to the people who're paying for their self-indulgence, when we read about Secret Service agents disgracing their country and themselves cavorting with prostitutes in Columbia, we should remind ourselves and others that it's all a part of the price we're paying for insuring that people hear as little about God in the public square as is possible.

When we lose the sense that we have an obligation to live up to a standard higher than our own feelings and social convention then we inevitably lose the sense that we have an obligation to live up to any standard at all. When we reach that point we just do whatever comes naturally which is, I guess, exactly what the GSA staffers and the Secret Service agents were doing.