Suppose I were lost in a forest and came upon a compass lying on the ground. If I picked it up and found it was smashed, I would sadly discard it and find my way as best I could.
But what if the compass appeared intact but had been mislabeled by a malicious prankster? What if “south” had been labeled “north”? I would trust the compass and follow it further into the forest, until I died of exposure.
Many people talk about our “broken” moral compass, but they are incorrect. If our moral compass were merely broken, it would point in random directions. People would go their own ways, without rhyme or reason. But that isn’t what is happening.
True, some non-conformists go their own ways, following their personal whims. But most people are not wandering off in all directions. Most people are moving in a specific direction. Most people are not picking up a smashed moral compass and finding it useless − they are picking up a mislabeled compass and are being misled by it:
● The officials of San Francisco made it a “sanctuary city” that was safe for Francisco Sanchez, who had been deported five times and been arrested on multiple drug charges. He is now, finally, in jail. But the city where I grew up was very far from safe for Kathryn Steinle, a law-abiding citizen. She is now in the ground. I guess the city isn’t quite “inclusive” enough to include her.
● Liberals feel sympathy for illegal immigrants. But they feel no sympathy for Americans, whether native-born or immigrant. They feel no responsibility when public hospitals, schools, prisons, and social services are overwhelmed. They feel no responsibility when jobs are taken by immigrants willing to work for the minimum wage, or below it. They feel no responsibility when unions – except for public-employee unions – see their power diminish still further, because of an influx of poverty-stricken immigrants competing for scarce jobs in a sluggish economy.
● The Obama administration concludes an agreement with the Iranian regime. The agreement removes all sanctions on Iran, adding billions to the Iranian economy – which it can use to promote terrorism and build weapons. But the agreement does nothing substantive to inhibit Iran from building nuclear weapons, and nothing at all to inhibit it from building missiles to carry these weapons. The Iranian regime gets what it wants. The Iranian people remain stuck with their oppressive regime, which now can boast of its victory over America. The people of America and Israel hope that the Iranians don’t really mean it when they scream “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” But what if they do mean it? On the other hand, Obama can boast about his “legacy.” What a deal!
● Pope Francis condemns capitalism as the “devil’s dung,” despite the fact that capitalism funds the charitable enterprises of the church, despite the fact that capitalism funded building St. Peter’s in the Vatican, and despite the fact that without economic freedom there is no freedom at all. But at the same time, the pope accepts with approval a small crucifix attached to a large hammer and sickle, despite the fact that communism was responsible for persecuting and murdering millions of Christians for their faith, from the Soviet Union to Communist China to Castro’s Cuba.
If the crucifix were displayed in the Vatican as a memorial to those persecuted Christians, it would be a moving tribute. But instead, it is seen as symbolizing the compatibility of Catholicism and communism – which are fundamentally incompatible.
There are many other examples:
● Consider rampant cheating on school exams, shameless cursing in public, and blatant sex and gratuitous violence in films and videos.
● Consider the difficulty some people have in distinguishing murderers from those who kill in self-defense, whether in terrorist attacks in the Middle East or in criminal attacks in our home town.
● Consider the people who support late-term abortion of viable babies and euthanasia of the severely disabled, but at the same time oppose capital punishment for convicted murderers − and still see no contradiction in the objects of their “compassion.”
These and many other issues are often described as people “going their own way” or “following their own path.” These descriptions are accurate as far as they go, but they don’t go nearly far enough.
We are not merely “going our own way,” wandering here and there as the mood strikes us. All the examples above, and others you can supply, reveal that many people − perhaps most − and not milling about aimlessly, but are moving in a specific direction.
If you doubt this, ask evangelical Protestants, traditional Catholics, or observant Jews what their religion teaches on a specific subject. The “modern” or “progressive” approach will probably be the exact opposite. See how often this prediction is correct.
Like rebellious children, we spend our whole lives doing the opposite of what our Father wants. We convince ourselves that we are independent adults making our own choices, when in fact we are still controlled by our Father’s wishes − but in reverse.
Our moral compass is not broken. The needle continues to point in the same direction. But “south” has been mislabeled “north.” For at least two generations, these reversed compasses have been handed to young people by parents, teachers, government officials, advocacy groups, and − yes − even some clergy.
“Broken moral compass” is a convenient but inaccurate description of the problem. Our moral compass has been altered, inverted, and sabotaged by those who are unwilling or unable to follow a legitimate compass − but who conceal their guilt by inducing the rest of us to go along with them.
There is still time to repair our moral compass. All that is needed is to compare our compass with a genuine one and re-label the directions. The real difficulty comes in following the corrected compass. The genuine path isn’t easy. Often it leads uphill and over rough terrain. But it is always straight, and eventually it will get us home again.
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