|Code: a Pastoral Priority boost – Sep 14|
REGENERATING THE MORAL AND SPIRITUAL VALUES OF OUR SOCIETY
By Vernon Khelawan
Now that all the major political parties in the country have signed the innovative Code of Ethical Political Conduct (CEPC) promulgated by a number of the country’s leading civil society organisations and chaired by Archbishop Joseph Harris, the question remains: Is this action a genuine sign of impending change in the way our politics are conducted, particularly on the heated hustings in an election year?
Guess we will all have to wait anxiously to see whether the tenets of the Code would really be observed as the General Election draws closer. This first effort, however, is testimony that at least the leaders of the various parties are willing to observe the Code, pledging to conduct clean campaigns.
Should this be achieved, the Third Pastoral Priority would receive a significant boost, since it would mean that greater attention would now be paid to restoring core values and standards, which is the crux of the Priority – Regenerating Moral and Spiritual Values in our Society.
Among the goals of the Code are “the promotion of respect for human rights, the pursuit of civil and political liberties, tolerance of divergent opinions and full and active participation of all in the political process.” They line up almost perfectly with the Priority goals.
In this society we are always quick to talk about freedom and rights, but as the booklet on the Priority so rightly encapsulates, “Freedom is one of God’s gifts to us, but by itself it can become a loose cannon, an unguided missile. This is what happens when we elevate the self and as a result relativise morality. I will determine what I will do since I am free. I can make myself into a loose cannon. One can point to extreme cases, like Hitler who obeyed only his law.
“Freedom,” therefore, “must not stand alone. It must be rooted in the truth and yield to the good. This will help us make the right choices and be able to regenerate moral and spiritual values. We are what we choose.”
Given the openness to the code generally, and the apparent readiness of our political leaders to abide by it, has the time come for the churches, business organisations, non-governmental organisations, trade unions and community-based organisations to work together to fashion programmes that can arrest the current “slide down the slippery slope to anarchy and confusion,” to quote Archbishop Harris?