If the post-modern world has one truth, it is this: a person can create his morality however he wants, and no one is to judge. It is selfishness put on steroids. Whatever I deem to be good and right is in fact good and right and no one can criticize me for it. If I want to cheat on my spouse because I think it is good and right, no one can condemn me. If I want to sexually use a girl whom I know wants a serious relationship, no problem. If I would rather go fishing with the guys rather than go to my children’s soccer games, who is to judge? If I want to cheat on an exam, so what? I am God and I can do whatever I feel like doing.
There is one big problem with this philosophy: no civilization can last long with it. Indeed, no one would want to live in such a civilization. Why? Because friendship, love, and commitment are not possible. These things require sacrifice, altruism, putting the needs of someone else before your own. A society can survive only if it has a moral system like the Judeo-Christian one that puts the brakes on unbridled selfishness and obliges us to treat others as we would like to be treated. Indeed, that is why John Adams knew that the unprecedented freedom recognized by our Constitution would destroy our country unless the people were virtuous: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Likewise, George Washington:
“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and Citizens.”
Indeed, if society is organized under the premise that every person has to do only that which he freely chooses to do—that is, a society of absolute selfishness—no commitment, no obligation, no informal or formal contract could ever be enforced because people who did not want to honor their promises would not have to do so. Very few people would enter into a marriage, have kids, enter into a contract, or enter into an agreement of any kind with anyone because they would not have any reason to trust the other side to keep its end of the bargain. Likewise, no one would be morally obligated to help someone in need, whether a stranger who is drowning, a child about to walk into the street, or an elderly relative who is lonely and isolated. The crux of the matter can be clearly seen: when you can freely walk by a drowning stranger because you have no obligation to him, he can walk by you when you are the drowning person. No society can exist like this. Indeed, curtailing such selfishness is one of the indispensable benefits to society brought by the Judaism and Christianity.
We have had almost 60 years in our experiment with unbridled selfishness and what is the result? Half of all marriages end in divorce. Over 40% of children are born out of wedlock (and over 70% among the poorest people). Millions of children grow up without a committed father in their lives. Thousands upon thousands of children suffer physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Sexually transmitted diseases run rampant. Millions of men who don’t want to get married and millions of women tired of being used by men. A birthrate well below replacement levels. (But for immigration, the United States would be rapidly declining in population.) Millions addicted to drugs. Millions feeling isolated and alone. Millions suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. Smash-and-grab robberies in our inner cities. An ever-expanding government to deal with all the social chaos. Movies and television shows glorifying all of the above. We are living in a dystopian world created by own selfishness.
We have chosen to glorify selfishness and the chickens have come home to roost. Indeed, unbridled selfishness has been tried for 60 years and has turned our society upside down. If Western Civilization is to have any hope of surviving, people of goodwill should do all they can to restore the Judeo-Christian worldview–and the altruism and sacrifice it instills in its adherents. We don’t have too much time left before our society implodes; indeed, China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela are in the wings just waiting for this to happen. Let’s overcome our selfishness and disappoint them.