Chris Moerdyk

Forget about morality, my China

2011-10-10 08:06

The waves of moral indignation that swept through South Africa's righteous wing over the Dalai Lama's visa last week made me wonder whether morality is actually worth fighting for.

After all, it's becoming a rare ingredient in most walks of life these days.

I can't think of a single government that shows any visible commitment to morality as most of them, ours included, put staying in power or getting to power, on the top of their party political agendas.

Governments today have to be completely obsessed with economics to survive and this inevitably means kicking moral convictions into touch. They're all doing it. South Africa denies the Dalai Lama a visa so as not to upset their biggest trading partner, China.

And every single one of those self-proclaimed guardians of democracy - the USA, UK, Europe and others might well cock a snoot at China by allowing the Dalia Lama to visit but at the same time they completely ignore China's horrendous human rights record by falling over themselves to do business with this emerging but morally questionable giant.

Sure, right now the USA is facing up to a trade war with China but that doesn't make them any more moral than the rest. The USA, like all the other major powers has pushed morality onto the sidelines in the their quest for oil, increased trade and waging war just to keep the armaments industry ticking over and which in turn keeps political parties in power.

But, it's not only governments. Business the world over is completely lacking in moral fibre and really only puts on a philanthropic face when they can get some PR mileage.

There is no doubt that sidelining morality has become a way of life in almost every country in the world.

It's everyone for himself these days. Screw the taxman if you can. Break the rules of road if you can. Fleece the consumer if you can. Get one up on your neighbour if you can. And who really cares about the Dalai Lama or Archbishop Tutu's birthday party because we need China's business more than we need pretty much anything else.

So, you have by now probably come to the conclusion that I am advocating that in the national interest, employment opportunities and the general economic stability of the country, we should stop getting so precious about morality and just accept that it's all just pie in the sky idealism. Perhaps you have concluded that I am arguing in favour of just accepting that the world isn't perfect and we might as well consign morality to the garbage heap for all the good it does us.

Well actually, all I am trying to do is demonstrate just how easy it is to push morality aside. How easy it is convince ourselves that morality isn't that important in the greater scheme of things.

The reality, however, is that for human beings, morality is pretty much like essential vitamins, irons, fatty acids, food, water, love and myriad other things that sustain human life.

So, the question one needs to ask is can you be immoral and happy?

Rich? Yes. Powerful? yes. But happy?  I doubt it.

Morality might have become outdated but I reckon its worth fighting for. Fighting long and fighting hard.

One has to believe that doing the right thing is not going to be detrimental. As Richard Branson said in a radio interview this week when he was commenting on the Dalai Lama visa issue - South Africa will have lost the respect of China for kow-towing to their policy with regard to the Dalai Lama. Makes you think, doesn't it?

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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Read more on:    desmond tutu  |  dalai lama  |  china

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