Saturday, August 21, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It was just a passing comment, but it encapsulated something deeply disturbing about contemporary outlooks. I was listening to a regular afternoon ‘panel’ segment on national radio, and the discussion was exploring concerns over the influence on young girls by perceived role models of the pop idol variety – barely out of their teens themselves.
One guest panellist recounted his discomfort when his 8 year old daughter asked him to explain the lyrics of a song she had been happily singing along to as they travelled in the car. The lyrics were of the more suggestive variety, and the father managed to fudge an answer to his daughter’s satisfaction.
All well and good, in that the panel was acknowledging concern such personalities and their media persona as role models. But it was the next throwaway line that really struck me.
The panellist hastily affirmed, to the ready agreement of the rest of the panel, that his concern had noting to do with morals or the like – his reaction was entirely a matter of ‘aesthetics’. In other words, it offended his sense of cultural taste.
Why the need to disown a concern for morals, especially when it comes to providing guidance for the young? The irony is that the continual libertarian mantra that we hear in public dialogue -a mantra that is especially strong in condemning any suggestion of censorship – is in itself stridently opposed to any expression of moral discourse in public debate.
At one level, there are all sorts of philosophical questions about where a sense of moral order may be derived, and on whose authority. Some argue that it is an inevitable consequence of post modernism, but I find the clichéd summaries of ‘post-modernism’ as if it is a monolithic or coherent perspective increasingly dissatisfying.
It is intriguing, however, to observe the increasingly vocal atheism campaigners argue that they can be just as ‘good’ as the rest. Whether they cross the libertarian cringe and start to talk openly in terms of standing for moral lifestyles remains to be seen.
But my real angst is for the young, many of whom have barely heard a word commending the importance of moral living. We might say that perhaps it is a matter of semantics, and the preferred terminology is ‘values’ – morals by another name.
But if that is so, why the need to decry any concern for ‘moral’ consideration, while ‘aesthetics’ is perceived as more acceptable?
I may be overstating the case, but I’m left with the sense that such a throwaway line is very revealing and a reflection of our community at large.