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LIFE ISSUES

Morality in Crisis

The news headlines in my country have recently been dominated by sexual scandals involving football clubs and players. Despite our culture claiming to be the epitome of sexual freedom, it seems that the parameters of what is morally acceptable may be more conservative than many would have us believe.

However, it seems to me that much of what I have read and heard in the media deals with the symptoms but fails to address the root cause of such inappropriate and abusive behaviour. Why would a group of men - some of them married men - engage in group sex with a young woman, consensual or otherwise?

"They didn't know any better. We have to educate them so they respect women".

I guess there is a place for education in this current circumstance. But effective education begins a long time before these men ever join a football club. "But what if the young woman behaves herself in such a way that strongly suggests she doesn't respect herself?" Even so, her attitude to herself doesn't qualify her to be an object of disrespect. Others should treat her respectfully as a fellow human being.

However, let's dig a bit further to see if we can locate a cause for such behaviour. If we pursue the 'respect' angle, we need to realize that we only respect what we value. Sadly in this case, the men involved saw the young woman's value being in her availability and perceived willingness to satisfy their sexual hunger. Why couldn't they see her as a person of great value and potential despite the way she was prostituting her value and potential for reasons known only to herself - if at all.

Somehow her life education had taught her that she was valuable only insofar as she made herself sexually available to others. In the case of the footballers, their life education taught them that there are women (like this woman) who want to be treated as sex objects and that the men are doing them a favour when they oblige. You see, both parties have been the recipients of education processes. But they have been the wrong processes.

The society and culture in which both the abused and abusers have been raised is the classroom. The lesson content is found initially in the home. How does the father treat the mother. Here are the first clues about man-woman relationships.

The extended family is the next classroom. What do children see in the relationships involving grandparents, aunts and uncles etc. All these relational networks are significant factors in the education process. Then, of course, come lessons found on the internet, movies, video games and the like. Another major education dynamic is one's peer group. Enough said.

But it's about now that this line of thinking begins to trouble those who, in the name of free thought and expression, begin to object because it calls people to recognize that freedom involves responsibility. Frankly, I'm fed up with the carping criticism that is heaped upon the conservative moralists in our society.

The fact is that, by and large, our society has abandoned many of the values that shaped our cultural morality in previous generations. We have chosen to embrace freedom with little or no responsibility and we are now reaping what we have sown.

I'm not arguing for a return to the hypocrisies of the so-called Victorian Era but for a much greater commitment to balance. There are some things from yesteryear that should have been abandoned. Good riddance.

But there are some qualities and values that desperately need to be recovered so that human life can again be valued and respected. Only then can human sexuality be enriching in one's life rather than debasing and abusive.

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