Moral Superiority and Time May 24, 2010Posted by Matt in books.
Tags: education, morality, racism, sex, The Help, time
Does our sense of morality become more correct over time?
Many times over the years I have heard people, generally those older than me, opine about the good old days. In their minds and stories it is an Edenic “Leave it to Beaver”-style paradise where children were respectful, things were peaceful, and everyone knew and enjoyed their station in life.
Generally speaking, those who consider our present time one of Gomorrah-like extreme moral degradation look back in time for a “Golden Age” of morality and I think it can be safely said that they consider sexual issues – whether it be the acceptance of homosexuality or a supposed increase in promiscuity – paramount to their moral sense.
At the same time, this “Golden Age” was one of racism and segregation, a time when blacks and whites did not even drink out of the same water fountains. This point was reinforced to me over the past several days as I read the recent bestseller, The Help, a story of black women in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi, who served as housekeepers, cooks, and childcare for the wealthy white families. While the book at times strays into Lifetime movie territory, I really enjoyed it for the most part and it was quite eye-opening for me, as someone who was born more than a decade after the fictional events. It’s hard for me to imagine a time when things like that actually happened.
So, this brings me back to my original question – are we morally superior today, in 2010, when compared to where we were 50 years ago or have we merely traded one set of moral issues for another? Has time, experience, and education taken us to a new and better level of morality?