“Not So Many Years Ago, the Only Students Who Studied Ethics Were Those with a Weakness for Philosophy or Religion. Nowadays Students in Many Disciplines Are Enrolling in Ethics Courses in a Variety of Undergraduate Departments and Professional Schools.”
This significant commentary upon one of the moral aspects of our latter days and end times was recently offered by Arjay Miller, business school dean and former president of Ford Motor Company. He also addended this note, “There are a lot of people in jail who have passed ethics courses.” This is only to prove that in far too many cases, the head and the heart operate upon different tracks. Too much dwells in the realm of knowledge, yet the land of the corresponding follow-ups is lean and barren indeed.
Mr. Miller’s commentary is significant indeed, when one surveys the moral scene of these times. There is too much of disillusionment and cynicism due to the wholesale abdication of absolutes. Black and White have been smudged into dirty Gray, and almost all things have been dissolved in the broth of relativism. “Doing your own thing” has become the unfortunate and tarnished currency. Did not the apostle speak of such self-motoring in his prophetic word as to the state of things in “the last days” — “men shall be lovers of their own selves” (2 Timothy 3:2)?
Note that “lovers” is, “philautos,” bearing the root of “fondness of self.” “Self-lovers” cradling their own selves in the polluted cradle of selfishness, answering alone to the tarnished trinity of “Me, Myself and I.” Bitterness indeed! And little wonder that black and white find no room. Dirty gray is the garment and the covering robe is that of relativism. Man is his own star-and-point. “My own thing” can know of naught save the “own-ness” of the personal scale and private measurement.
Mr. Webster of the dictionary defines “ethics” as relating to “moral action, motive or character.” One may quite easily note what is the missing element transpiring upon these scenes. Scarcely a day passes but that the media uses words such as, “chincanery … trickery … corruption,” in the accounts of the affairs of men. Poor Diogenes would have hard passage in the search for the honest man upon the lanes of commerce and enterprise!
Yet withal, the quotation from Arjay Miller suggests some measure of realization upon the part of modern man as to the rapidly downward sweep of the road of relativism. He is hoisted by his own petard. Miller bears not the lone voice; others have entered into the ethical concern. Faludy remarked, “Science presented us first with normative ethics, then with relativistic ethics, and at last with no ethics at all.” Shawcross declared, “The so-called new morality is too often the old immorality condoned.” Was it only cynicism which directed Drucker to aver, “Ethics stays in the preface of the average business book”? Lastly, there is this thought from Reichenbach, “The answer to the quest for moral directives is the same as the answer to the quest for certainty; both are demands for unattainable aims.” These quotations, and they could be multiplied in the more sober thinking of the times, answer to the rise of the basic sore of uncertainty which erupts with the shaded transactions. Skulduggery may bear of quick cheat, but the quick all too quickly dissolves before the “nevertheless afterwards” of uncertain aftertaste. Together with the outward chuckle, there is the inward discomfort; the sense of wrong and short, which ever answer to the deeper instincts of man.
Arjay Miller’s note as to the proliferation of ethics courses betrays that which is but the basic discipline for modern man. There are deeper matters than the black and whites, or dirty grays of exterior living. A measure must be carried forth as to those basics which bear traffic with the soul and carry the merchandise of spiritual freight. The interior of greater consequence demands but another type of discipline, and the attendance at a more meaningful school. The Lord Jesus Christ stands at this critical crossroads and invites modern man to, “Learn of Me” (Matthew 10:29). This latter-day interest in the ethical requirement but betrays that vaccuum of the soul which irritates and persists through the tattered fabric of relativism. Dirty gray but magnifies inner uncleanness. Multiplied disciplines upon the part of the schoolings of man can never answer to the interior imperatives. “Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21) constitutes the essentials of the highest morality. Calvary is the critical capsule for the containment of every measure of concern.