Where is the Moral Compass?

January 15, 2018

The stunning revelations of sexual abuse by famous and powerful men against women have swept across this country.

Even in this age of sexual promiscuity, the stories are exceptionally lurid and depressing. They cause various concerns, all of which are worthy of deep thought.

First, as a lawyer and judge, I am uneasy about the prospects that in copycat style, reputations of innocent men may be besmirched or even ruined by false allegations. It seems that the news media cares nothing for the presumption of innocence in its rush to judgment.

But by far the most unsettling aspect of it all is the sad realization that most, if not all, of these claims are true.

What is finally coming to the surface in this country is a national cancer which has been eating away at our innards for years without notice. The decline of manhood. Real manhood. Men not of muscular good looks or clever pick-up lines. But men of character. Several years ago, Kate Bolick addressed the deficiency of the contemporary male character in her November 2011 article “All the Single Ladies” in the Atlantic magazine.

Bolick states “American women as a whole have never been confronted with such a radically shrinking pool of marriageable men.” She boldly concludes that choice is far too often between “playboys and deadbeats.”

What is the chief cause of this devastating social malady? One of the major culprits is the absence of fathers in the home. Young boys learn how to be men from their own fathers.

I was raised by a strong father whom I feared throughout my childhood and loved profoundly when I was grown. He was a man’s man. And, I grew up in close proximity to the men he worked with. They were of the same ilk. I saw on a daily basis the deep respect and gentle manners with which my father treated my mother, his mother, his sister, my sisters…all women of course. Too many young boys today are growing up in homes without men, or worse, in homes with bad men. Men who have so little self-confidence in their own manhood that they have to cover it up by physical abuse against their physically weaker girlfriend, wife, or even children. These so-called men, with the bluster and masculine bravado of their false gods, are cowards. Verbal and unacceptable language toward a woman is a form of assault, sometimes more devastating than physical abuse.

So, we can begin with that one realization as we try to correct our course. We need to put good fathers back in the home. But, I carry this deeply depressing dread that it might be irreversible. I think of the melancholy reflection of Ezra Pound: “they will come no more; the old men with beautiful manners.”

All of these appalling sexual transgressions by men in positions of power and authority are done in a current social climate of moral coarseness, open vulgarity, and shameless sexual exhibitionism. There is a prurient pestilence infesting our country. And such a condition has historically been the death rattle of ancient civilizations.

For the last several decades, television and movie moguls and directors have poured out onto the American landscape programs, movies, and sitcoms with explicit sexual content. There has been a rapid stripping down of moral discernment and good taste in exhibiting more and more provocative sexually explicit movies and programs. Sexual acts are now commonplace on primetime TV. My own generation of baby boomers has produced a permissive pop culture where tolerance has become the only virtue, and intolerance the only vice.

Much of the sexual misconduct making the headlines is committed by the powerful moguls and actors who have been spewing immorality upon our country for years through the powerful means of movies and television—and have become filthy rich in the process.

Madison Avenue has learned that “sex sells” by saturating the advertising market with provocative sexual pictures, scenes, and innuendoes. With 24-hour television and commercials raining down upon the American consciousness constantly, the young are raised on one clear message of sexual permissiveness and entitlement. The message to our young: if you’re not “sexy,” you’re nobody. If you’re not having sex, you’re nobody. Heaven help our young find their moral compass through this tsunami of indecent salesmanship.

Part of the symbol of the ancient Masonic fraternity is the compass. It serves as a reminder to all men of Masonry to “circumscribe our passions and keep them within due bounds.” It is an admonition that we as a nation would do well to follow.

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