Core Values are Not Moral Judgments
Moral, ethical and behavioral
rules are confusing similar- but that confusion can lead to bad
decision and a dysfunctional democracy. The differences matter.
For example, in the Ten Commandments the prohibition
against murder and stealing have their basis in moral and shared
democratic core values. But, worshiping a single god, or a commandment
against "coveting" represent purely moral decisions (a
person can covet as long as they do not steal; society has no right
to intrude on their mental beliefs. Good, upstanding citizens can
worship one god, many gods or no gods). In a pluralistic society,
when rules based on moral imperatives are at odds with core values,
they should almost always be optional for individuals to observe,
and the government must adopt a neutral stance regarding those moral
Such moral and religious issues include:
Only in extremely rare circumstances
should moral decisions become the rule of law.
The moral nature of society
emerges from the moral behavior of its citizens- not from regulation.
The best way to influence others to adopt your moral views of the
world as their own, is leading by example.
Strength is a Result
All successful democratic systems are built on
clear rules which at time are contradictory. Our constitutional
federation is held together by three, often opposed branches of
government- yet that tension forces everyone to sharpen their arguments
and avoid responsibility for poor decisions. Dictatorships avoid
disagreements by killing the dissenters- democracies welcome tension
as a way to adapt their country to changing times. Without giving
up its core value system.
Your freedom to travel ends at my property line.
But, if you see me trying to murder another person in my front yard,
your responsibility to others trumps my property rights, and you
can rush in to help. My right to hold political or religious beliefs,
no matter how distasteful and contrary to your own sense of morality,
are mine and mine alone. I can publish those ideas, debate them
in public, and raise my children in my image. But, if actions based
on those beliefs cause damage to others, then I must take responsibility
for rectifying that damage. If they cause my children to do damage
to others, then others can step into the parental role to avoid
Only in this way only may balance be achieved.