Citizens Around the World Seek Return to Traditional Values
By Arthur Goldberg
Until the latter part of the twentieth century, regardless of which religious belief system prevailed in their area of the world, most countries operated within a framework of shared moral values premised upon their traditional religious beliefs. The underlying common principles of these values are the Noahide laws — the bedrock of beliefs shared by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This Biblically based code was revealed to Noah after the Flood. The Noahide laws, applicable to all of humanity, predate but were authoritatively reiterated through the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai over 3,000 years ago.
Since the middle of the last century, a new secular, hedonistic, materialistic progressive worldview has emerged, one supported by elitists world-wide. However, this “politically correct” mentality has produced a growing disenchantment between the political establishments and ordinary citizens who have witnessed the erosion of their traditional values, families, and communities. The enforced disintegration of these traditional values by today’s advocates of “political correctness” led to a rebellion by ordinary citizens and became a prime motivation for the election of President-Elect Donald Trump in the 2016 United States presidential elections.
However, the United States was not alone in this hostility to the elitist view in which the ordinary citizen was pressured to ignore and forget G-d’s moral values. New political movements erupted. Whether these movements represented the left or the right, they succeeded in toppling the political elites. The truth is these world-wide political establishments were defeated because they were tone deaf to the needs and desires of their populace.
Many commentators refer to the English Brexit vote — which was a major rebuff to the bureaucrats in the EU in Brussels — as an early indicator of Trump’s victory. But numerous other examples throughout the world exist whether we speak, for example, of the victory of Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza anti-austerity party in Greece, or Rodrigo Duterte’s election in the Philippines, where he campaigned as a man of the masses intent on ridding the country of corruption. The stunning rejection of President Juan Manuel Santos’ peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) and Germany’s state elections that rebuked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policies are additional examples of rejecting the current order. The most recent examples of disenchantment with Western liberalism were the elections in Bulgaria and Moldova, both of which elected candidates seeking better relations with Russia.
Today, a clear choice exists between two opposing worldviews: the traditional spiritually embedded worldview that anchored societies for millennia or the secular hedonistic materialist outlook that unmoored it. This latter stance created a largely unwanted progressive agenda that dictates inconsistent values. We believe that the volatility of political movements throughout the world is a sign that the end result of this disenchantment with “politically correct” politics will reconfigure social actions as well as correct the moral drift that is so evident in today’s judiciary, media, and educational systems.
The advocates of “politically correct” ideology seek to prohibit all religious teaching in schools and universities because their movement understands that traditional morality is rooted in religious tradition and education. These advocates intend to disrupt the passing on of these ideas by crippling the transmission of traditional moral values in our secular world.
The lesson of the world-wide victories of ordinary citizens, that is, the forgotten men and women who have been ignored by our political elites, is to force our politicians back into the traditional mainstream of a moral center which, in turn, should improve our political discourse. Politics as usual is on its way out. Contemporary populism is a reaction against a regime of “politically correct” values. Anger has replaced complacency, in part, because of the recognition that conventional politicians have failed us and, in part, because societies are in crisis due in large part to the enforcement of “politically correct” policies.
Those of us who understand the theory and practice of universal morals must reach out with our ethical legacy to redeem and empower our new messengers. These envoys can be authentic vehicles of reform to bring politics back into the moral center. In this process, citizens will reclaim personal, intellectual, and religious freedom.
Religion as a source of values in the public square, which influences social policy, is absolutely legitimate. America’s constitutional principle of separation of religion and state was never intended to exclude religiously inspired values from the public square nor from public institutions. What it meant was that the government could not prescribe adherence to a particular religious sect, nor require its officers to be of that religion. Curtailing the expression of religious values in public policy and institutions and replacing them with secular materialism violates the separation of religion and state. It would paradoxically install a new religion of secularism, thereby purging authentic traditional religious values from social institutions and social policy. (The clearest examples of this new religion of conformism and “politically correct” ideology are found in America’s colleges and universities.)
Citizens must work to recreate a political culture where civilization predicates itself on a belief in G-d and the principles He laid out over 3,000 years ago. The Noahide Laws serve as this moral foundation, providing a universal moral/ethical code on the basis of which larger social issues can be solved. It is hoped that the political upheavals throughout the world are a precursor to the reestablishment of such a renewed culture.
Arthur Goldberg is Co-Director of the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA.org) and former Co-Director of JONAH, Inc. He is the author of Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change. Email: Arthur@JIFGA.org
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