Famine of Morality and Superfluity of Hypocrisy Belayneh Abate
I have never witnessed universal peace although one of the current ill-famed and self- acclaimed patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido church claims on his official stamp that he is the honorary president of the world religious peace. As a result, I have been searching to find out parameters that could guide me to identify good from evil acts, and moral from immoral deeds. I believe the society that nurtured me and the religious- thinker Immanuel Kant, somehow, have provided me with some usable tools.
As meticulously discussed by Professors Will Durant and Michael Sandel in the early fifties and just last year respectively, Kant’s supreme principles of morality lies in the motives but not in the outcomes of deeds. According to Kant, only deeds accomplished or intended to be accomplished merely because they are the rights things to do for the causes of humanity are classified as moral deeds. In other words, if deeds are implemented only for personal gains, they should not be considered as moral deeds irrespective of their productivity. I believe this view of Kant is similar to the views of the society that cultivated me in general and the views of my parents in particular.
Growing up in the culturally rich, historically and archeologically decorated Ethiopia, I used to watch priests providing long religious services with no incentives in return what so ever. Similarly, I used to see community members supporting the disabled, the dejected and the less- fortunate without expecting any forms of reward from anyone in return. My own father used to protect the community from burglars, and gangsters merely because he believed that was the right thing to do. Bare-footed, my grand- mother and my mother used to devote a large proportion of their time in providing social and material assistance to those who were more underprivileged than we were. They used to deliver their good will in secrecy as they did not want to receive and form of reward in the form of praise or admiration from community members. When my mother shared meat and milk products to those who were not fortunate enough to buy even two or three eggs during festivities such as Easter, she had to do it either before dawn or after sunset so that no one could watch her when she was delivering the food. As a child, although I followed their footsteps in doing so, I did not realize the significance of this secret- good will. I believe now that my community and my family were strictly practicing what the holy bible teaches and what Immanuel Kant wrote although they did not know that he even ever existed.
But what I and others who came from similar societies are doing today? Epidemics of immorality inundated Western Europe as education boomed in the 18th century. During this period, Rousseau  wrote in his famous essay: “Since learned men had appeared, honest men were nowhere to be found”. The legendary writer continued “a learned man is a depraved animal; education does not make a man good, it only makes him clever-usually for mischief.” Rousseau won a prestigious award for this essay. Would his essay win another dignified prize today? Most probably not, because just- men who vote for honesty are nowhere to be found since educated people flourished and infiltrated the world communities in the 20ths and 21st centuries. Those of us who consider ourselves as learned men today are slaves of power, money, ethnicity, fear, envy, perfidy, theft, grandiosity, praise, fame, sexual lust, gluttony and so on.
According to Scriptures and Immanuel Kant, morality is highly connected to autonomy -liberty from any form of slavery. Therefore, only free or autonomous men can perform deeds worth of morals. People who lack autonomy (pure reason), are prone to carry out evil acts and immoral deeds. A dictator massacres people because he is an all time slave of fear. An educated man serves ardently the callous dictators when he becomes loyal slave of excess money, power, ethnicity or other secondary gains. Otherwise what other plausible factors could explain harassing, jailing, and killing innocent people who just happen to have different beliefs and opinions? What else could account for actively supporting those who mercilessly take away the lives of others including the helpless children and women?
Yes, this is an era where you observe even priests and monks threatening to discontinue spreading the massage of the gospel unless they are paid a good sum of money. This is disheartening time where you could find church leaders standing behind the killers. Sad! This is the 21st century where you see physicians, engineers, lawyers, journalists, economists, pharmacists, sociologists, nurses and other professionals passionately supporting and serving ruthless tyrants just for the sake of material prosperity at the expense of the victims. Similarly, this an epoch where you see politicians preaching freedom, good governance and prosperity while, in fact, their real motive is driven by the pillars of evil- power and money. The list goes on.
The hypocrisy reaches at its zenith when the tyrants and their servants as well as other “learned people” try to cover up their treacherous acts and indifference to evil with moral blankets. However, as indicated above, only free men can carry out moral deeds. Free, here, does not necessary mean free from tyranny but free from unholy behaviors such as excess greed for power and money as well as other self-interests. Here is a morality litmus test we should ask ourselves when we plan or defer to execute an action. Why I am or I am not carrying out this action? If the answer does not adequately address humanity, then action in question is NOT a moral action. It does not necessarily mean, however, carrying out or not carrying out the action is immoral. All moral deeds are good acts, but not all good acts are moral deeds.
Just stare at the scene of the current dictatorial rules. Grasping all the outlets of mass media with their blood soaked fists, the despots at the different parts of the world try to convince us that they imprison, harass, and murder people for the “stability and safety of their people.” In fact, they further shamelessly proclaim their victims love them unto death for doing so. I do not think anyone will expect them to tell us that they committed such atrocities because they suffer from unfathomable fear and boundless greed. However, any rational man could understand that these wicked individuals massacre and harass people because they are prisoners and slaves of cyclical fear and greed.
With the same token, just gaze at the Western Governments’ foreign policies for a moment. These policies may not necessarily reflect their peoples’ views. At any rate, most of the western governments preach the world that their foreign policies are based on solid moral grounds although they do not hide their self-interests. However, as described above, moral deeds do not go hand-in- hand with self-interests. What propels these sorts of policies further towards the deepest sea of moral hypocrisy is their discriminatory nature. It looks Western foreign policies categorize tyrants in to three major categories called Wild, domesticated, and hermaphrodite tyrants.
As you might agree all cold-blooded tyrants are, somehow, similar in terms forcing their people to live earthly hell lives. What clearly differentiates these three forms of tyrants is their relationship with the world’s super powers. Wild tyrants are predators with puffy testicles and they think that they could survive their victims’ aggressions without the assistance of the super powers. The domesticated ones, on the other hand, are castrated predators who strongly believe that their survival depends on the support of the superpowers. The hermaphrodites are those despots with one puffy and another castrated testicle. These types of tyrants manifest the characteristics of the first two kinds of tyrants alternatively based on the circumstances they encounter. Therefore, as their nature (“gene”) dictates them, the domesticated tyrants ardently serve their creators or cultivators whereas the wild despots refuse providing such services. As a pay back, the superpowers foster the domesticated tyrants as their garden mushrooms but they turn every possible rock to overthrow the wild despots by stirring up the tyranny victims. The fate of the hermaphrodite tyrants depends on the level of their testosterone.
If you want to see more examples of moral hypocrisy in action, please pay attention to the fallacy of ethnicity. As you know, humanity by nature is colorless and odorless even more than pure water. Furthermore, humanity has no language, dimension or geographical demarcation. Therefore, how could anyone fully covered and blinded with ethnic veil see this nature of humanity? How on the earth could we be considered moral or humanitarian people while we try to squeeze and chock such a vast-and precious human nature in a very narrow vase called ethnicity? What sense does it make when an organization declares its mission as protection of the human rights of this or that ethnicity? What moral value could they bear when groups of people pronounce themselves as the guardian of this or that language- speaking people per see with no shred of regard for others?
In summary the world suffers from deficiency, if not absence, of universal peace. Many believe shortage of, food , water, shelter, well designed constitutional laws, rules, regulations, and modernized security apparatus (especially in poor nations) as major contributing factors. In my opinion, the major attributable factor for lack of universal peace is profound famine of morality and superfluity of hypocrisy. Certainly, not lack of “honorary president of world peace.” Therefore, the right path towards universal peace is uprooting hypocrisy and nurturing morality at home, at work, in schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, associations, organizations and where ever human species exist. Thank you.
1. Will Durant, the story of philosophy, 1953 edition
2. Michael Sandel, Justice: What’s the right thing to do, First Edition 2010
More Reads for Interested Amharic Readers
1. Good and Evil http://addisvoice.com/article/Good.pdf or http://www.quatero.net/meta/GoodandEvil.pdf
2. What is a human being www.addisvoice.com/article/sew2.pdf
The writer can be reached at email@example.com