Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where Have All Our Morals Gone?

Where have all our morals gone? High flyers straying!
Where have all our morals gone? So many lusting.
Where have all our morals gone? Something is missing!
When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?

The year 2012 has been described as "a year of lust." Singaporeans have been entertained with R rated news this year with the juicy sex scandals involving a MP, high ranking civil servants, teachers and sadly, most recently, even our Speaker of Parliament. This is not a time for self -righteous condemnation but a time for deep reflection and self-examination for all Singaporeans. It is a time to recognise that we may be living in material prosperity but there is a famine of true love in our nation. We are in a deep spiritual poverty. It is time to understand that we need more than meritocracy in our nation – we need the spirit of compassion.

The loss of honour, status and power by those involved is heart-breaking, not only for those involved, but also for their families, friends, colleagues and even our nation at large. It is the price they have to pay for their indiscretion. We cannot condone their actions and turn their fall from grace into a badge of honour. It is foolish to think that one’s conduct in one’s personal affairs will not have an impact on one’s public service.  If one is not trustworthy in the little things of one’s personal life, how can one be trusted with the bigger responsibilities of public office?

It is critical to recognise the reality of evil forces that seek to deprive us of the goodness of life. This is the message of movies such as the Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. In our common humanity, we all desire pleasure and seek to avoid suffering. Those who fear suffering and death will seek comfort and solace from religion. But those who have been through suffering and who have to face death often find themselves, together with their families and friends on the narrow path of spirituality. This is the journey to live beyond ourselves and to recognise and relate to a transcendent Higher Power.

Viktor Frankl noted that the world is in a bad state, but everything will become worse unless each of us do our best. But more important than doing our best, is being our best. We can make the world a better place not by what we do or achieved but by who we have become. The most important and meaningful goal of life is to be a channel of love to those around us. Barbara De Angelis has described Love as the magician of the Universe. She noted that “love infuses life with meaning. It performs magic and miracles. It brings light where there is darkness and hope where there was despair. It is our greatest teacher and most constant blessing.”

The good news of the Christmas season is that Love came down at Christmas. But to receive the gift of the real and unconditional Love that so many of us are yearning for, we need the spirit of repentance. There has been much talk about honesty, transparency and governance. What is perhaps lacking is a spirit of repentance in our nation. This is not a feeling of remorse but a coming to our senses. It is sad that many confuse the counterfeits of love with true and unconditional Love – the Love that does not seek to get what it can from others but to give what it can to others, the Love that seeks the welfare of others even at the cost of one’s own.

The fruit of the spirit of repentance will then be seen in our increased sensitivity to the needs of others, a commitment to justice and equality and a responsible use of power. We will be set free from a culture of blame. We will be empowered to live in a culture of gratitude and forgiveness which will make it safe for anyone to confess their greed, lust, pride and other failings that keep them from living a life of love, joy and peace.

True love is more than a feeling. It is the power that overcomes our fears and gives us strength in times of adversity. Christmas is more than a season of merrymaking and parties. May the problems of our messy world drive us to find the true meaning of Christmas. As the following Christmas carol reminds us:

Christmas isn't Christmas, till it happens in your heart.
Somewhere deep inside you is where Christmas really starts
So give your heart to Jesus and you’ll find that it is really true,
That it’s Christmas, really Christmas, for you.

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