This article is based off of a 1978 commencement address at Harvard University. But hang in there with me!! That sounds boring as hell. But if you want to raise ‘stand up’ kids. Kids with a moral compass. Hear me out.
The premise of the speech lamented how in the Western hemisphere, law had replaced higher notions of morality.
He said in his speech: "Any conflict (in the West/USA) is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution," "If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required. Nobody will mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk. It would sound simply absurd."
An example always helps: So let’s take Bill Clinton. I need not say more. You’re thinking of Monica Lewinski. And it’s a point that conservatives once understood. "If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?"
And they were right. And now conservatives have turned a blind eye to all the nefarious acts of the current president. But they shouldn’t. Just because an action won’t get you convicted of a crime doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
Nothing your child does is likely illegal and yet we all seem to have plenty of input onto what they shouldn’t be doing. Don’t yell at your brother, pick up your toys, finish your dinner. No crimes there.
But if you raise a child – or act in a way that only pays attention to what’s legal – or worse act in a way that only measures what will and won’t be caught. Well, I’ll pin the fall of American superiority directly you. Because a world full of shady businesspeople hiding behind lawyers gives us more Robert Krafts, more Matt Lauers, even more Michelle Duggars.
As Jonah Goldberg of the Chicago Sun Times writes: I am arguing that we’ve lost anything remotely like a moral consensus in this country because legalism has crowded out morality.
The question is what culture do you want your children to live in? And that won’t be answered with a book of laws. The culture of tomorrow will be written by your actions as a parent, the example you set when tough situations come your way. There’s always a set of eyes watching you from now on. Act like you have a moral compass.