Why We Need Moral Ed.

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” So lamented Cambridge professor C.S. Lewis.  Lewis’ insightful premise can be seen in the Oscar nominated film, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.”

Are You Smarter Than A…

One of the smart guys in this tragic scenario was the “visionary” CEO, Jeffrey Skilling.  He joined Enron on the condition that they utilize mark-to-market accounting, allowing the company to show potential profits for certain projects immediately, regardless of their success.  It could be called “Subjective Accounting” …or “lying.”

Skilling, as one writer said, “Imposed his Darwinian worldview on Enron by establishing a review committee that annually fired the bottom 15 percent, who were deemed ‘unsuitable’ for the company’s objectives.”  His “survival of the fittest” approach created what insiders described as a “highly competitive and brutal working environment.”  Skilling even hired executives, known as the “guys with spikes,” to enforce his directives.

Deregulation?

Many see the Enron problem as a breakdown of regulatory oversight and unbridled greed.  And, they’re right.  Without some kind of check on our appetites and passions we’re all capable of despicable compromises, while the smarter we are, the more adept we become at justifying our own motives and ends.

Our forefathers understood this and built into our political structure a set of checks and balances that have kept us going for over 200 years.  The question now is where are we going to find a Big Brother who is omniscient enough to keep tabs on all of man’s shenanigans, without creating an Orwellian nightmare?

History is clear – unless there is an inner government holding us to a specific moral code some external force will have to step in.

We’re Not in Kansas, Toto

Since the dawn of history, one of the roles of education has been to train not only the mind but the character of the student.  What are the forces that molded a Jeffrey Skilling versus a Martin Luther King?  It is one part personality and four parts the philosophy or worldview that their values were built on.

Indian philosopher Ravi Zacharias identified very succinctly the philosophy of Western Culture – and therefore our educational systems – and where it is headed.

  1. The Rise of Existential Reality – This philosophy, seen in films and novels, assumes there is no morality other than what the individual experiences in his “existence.”  Therefore, like Enron’s accounting schemes, our moral accounting system is now totally subjective or “what works for me.”
  2. The Rise of Sensuality – If I define my morality based on my own experience, what is stronger than my sensual experiences?  The flagrant sensuality of modern culture is not an accident; it is the only logical outcome of existentialism.
  3. The Rise of Transcendentalism – If I alone determine what is right and wrong, who is the god in my reality?  You guessed it, ME.
  4. The Rise of Satire as the Defining Art – How do we live in a world without common standards and how do we communicate such an irrational philosophy?  We make people laugh at everything else.  Remember, the most popular news programs among those 30 and younger appear on Comedy Central.