The Moral Compass

This morning I was talking to an old friend about the lack of moral direction in our societies. Who took the place of the church, the boy scouts or the grandmothers? No wonder so many people get lost in their search of right and wrong. Nobody tells them whjere the thin lines are between success and making money at any price, or between freedom and cheating. Whether we look at sports (Lance Armstron), science (fraud in research results), business (too much to mention), law practice or Wall Street, corruption seems to be everywhere. Especially in Calvinistic Holland, the cradle of decency and soberness, or so we thought. But in just one issue of daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad (October 13th) I found six cases of corruption and deceit, coming from very decent companies and people. Is it all about the money? Greed is a normal human characteristic, my friend told me. That’s not the problem. The problem is the lack of good examples, good practices, good leadership, or just good people in general. In a country like The Netherlands, the national heroes live from soccer, undress on television, or travel around the world making fortunes as DJ’s. There is not one philosopher or economist on the list of very good examples. No scientist or writer. No poet or doctor. So we get what we deserve, I said, slightly embarassed. My friend gave it a thought. Yes, he said, but that doesn’t mean that we should accept this as our fate. Someone has to go back to the roots of decent society and tell the right stories. Ones that appeal to the young and bright, the future leaders of this country. The best side of the current crisis might be that good people stand up. Not on a basis of money and power, but of wisdom. Because the moral compass in us has to be woken up by wisdom instead of being put asleep by opportunism. Wow. Can anyone put this into a political party’s program?

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