Have we lost the basic principle of morality? Do we actually know now what it means? The recently retired Anglican Lord Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Rt. Rev. Alfred Reid, once questioned the moral authority of Jamaicaâ€™s leaders.
Bishop Reid (pictured) said his country was plunging deeper and deeper into an abyss of fear and despair as it struggled to define the line separating the constituted authority and the criminal underworld. One can only ask the question are the Cayman Islands going the same way?
But itâ€™s not just here in the Caribbean. Take a look at whatâ€™s happening in the West, especially the UK and the USA. There is one single line from the USAâ€™s Declaration of Independence that describes these basic principles, and it is the meaning of these words that provided the foundation for the formation of the United States:
“We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson
Every one of us is created equal and that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should be a basic right. Americaâ€™s founding fathers acquired these principles from their religious beliefs, and regardless of what people may think, the United States was founded on Biblical principles. Their founding fathers did not use certain aspects of the Bible just to satisfy what they wanted in a country. They used the Bible as a whole in order to create an understanding of what the basic rights are for an individual. They concluded that these rights are from God and are given to all individuals.
One of the unalienable rights given by our creator is the right to live our lives.Â Our creator placed each individual on this earth for a reason.Â Is it not true that other people in the world have that same unalienable right to live and fulfill God’s purpose? So, if this is a founding principle not only for the USA but also for all of us, does it not follow that we should all help others less fortunate then ourselves? Should not others, who were born in underdeveloped countries, have the same right to life? We seem to have lost site of the fact that excess without giving is not really what USAâ€™s founding fathers had in mind and most certainly not Godâ€™s.
What is morality? Wikipedia describes morality as the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and those that are bad (or wrong). My first example of immorality may be considered by many as one that does not have anything to do with morality, but if you give it more then cursory thought, you would most likely consider it a morality issue.
This first example has to do with us here in Cayman and our relationship with our automobiles. Yes, immorality can be seen at such a insignificant level. More importantly, this example shows the pervasiveness of immorality within the our society. Most of us who live here need an automobile for basic functioning within most areas of these small islands. The automobile has become a perfunctory status symbol. Many people here can barely pay their rent or mortgage, but they will shovel out money per month on an automobile they really cannot afford. They spend money per month in the form of a car payment or lease, just to have a â€˜niceâ€™ car. In the USA it is an obsession â€“ especially with the sport utility vehicle (SUV) until the soaring gas prices has made in uneconomic.
The basic argument of the SUV owner was that by driving a SUV, they felt safer. If their driving skill was so poor they couldnâ€™t avoid poor drivers, they should have tried working on their driving skills. SUVâ€™s consume large quantities of fuel and concomitantly contributed to the increase in fuel demand. This increase in fuel demand helped drive fuel prices upward. And how many SUVâ€™s do you see driving around here. Even our Editor-in- Chief has one as does our Publisher (I am on dangerous ground here so I had better stop this line of attack). With all of us so reliant upon our automobiles, higher fuel prices mean less extra money in our pockets. Money that could be used to help feed those dying from starvation throughout the world.
The American car companies for many years pushed the SUV on the American public, Latin America and the Caribbean. These car companies, as we all know, suffered the consequences. The thinking as to why these companies offered these vehicles to the American public and us was that they thought we would continue in their mind set that excess is better. The American car companies today have learnt their lesson but at what a cost. A bail out by the American taxpayer. They have had to continually lay off workers in order to maintain a level of viability. They have been very slow to innovate and the federal government has had to mandate fuel efficiency.Â Because of their sluggish response to the need for fuel-efficient vehicles, American car companies suffered the consequences.
On the other hand, Toyota and Honda, companies that have put fuel-efficient hybrids out into the market place, are now doing very well. Toyota was the number one car seller in the world, until the recall of faulty vehicles that started in 2009 and is still happening even as I write this article (March 2012).Â Toyota and Honda have always placed fuel efficiency as a higher priority. Now Americans and people here have created a new mind set that excess is not good, and frugality is the way of the future. Simply put, driving SUVâ€™s is not intelligent.
Granted, there are situations where an individual needs a SUV such as Alaska or any area of the country where road conditions are poor or winters are severe.Â I know our editor had no choice in buying his because he lost his car in Hurricane Ivan (although that wasnâ€™t a fuel-efficient car either) as did our publisher and they were the only cars available for purchase. And there are occasions where material needs to be transported in a SUV because ofÂ itâ€™s increased carrying capacity.Â In these cases, there is a legitimate reason to own a SUV because of itâ€™s utilitarian value.Â But the majority of SUV owners are not in these situations or extreme conditions frequently enough to warrant owning such a fuel wasting vehicle.Â Driving a hybrid is an example of intelligent frugality.Â They are now available here and with the increasing gas prices I am sure more will be bought. However, here we have a very high electricity bill to pay and that climbs at the same rate of gas because gas is what fuels the electricity generators.Â But we are starting to develop the mindset that having less is better and frugality is the way of the future.