Whenever a new topic is seized upon by the media, the ensuing fallout can be mind-numbing, as well as stifling to critical thought. The current hysterical bleating about “morality” and “moral values” illustrate the phenomenon.
If you’ve been living anywhere other than a cave, it’s been hard to insulate yourself from the barrage of commentary regarding this subject matter.
Personally, I resent having morality or moral values defined for me. I am confident at my advancing age, that I’m capable of determining what is moral and right for me. I am particularly galled when others, lacking an ethical and moral core themselves, preach that my morality is somehow foreign, or “un-American”.
George Lakoff has an excellent article in The Nation about the differences in values between people like myself—considered progressive—and those morals championed on the right—considered traditional, American, or family in nature.
In his article, Lakoff clearly contrasts two sets of values, delineating the differences between them. (link)
He uses the labels, “moral values” to speak to common values that all of us hold; care and responsibility, fairness and equality, freedom and courage, fulfillment in life, opportunity and community, cooperation and trust, honesty and openness.
He contrasts these with “idealized family values” held by many who voted for President Bush and who might be characterized as right-of-center; he characterizes these as being part of a “strict-father family model” that determines what’s “right” from a values set.
I encourage you to read Lakoff’s article as it thoughtfully looks at the issue in a less shrill, histrionic way than much of the current commentary about important differences in our country.