The Shift In Moral Values Responsible For Today's Moral Decadence

The tragedies of moral decadence in our society today was caused largely by the society's shift in moral values.

Societal moral values are a great source of motivation for people in society. The values determine the kind of behaviors expected from each member of the society in order to fit into the society perfectly. They help in regulating the conduct of people in society. Man is a social being; as such, he naturally has a desire to be loved, honored, and respected in society. Every society has certain social values that a member of the society is expected to adhere to. Those individuals who adhere to societal values are usually honored and respected and often times idolized to serve as role models to the younger generations.

A few years ago, when I was growing up as a kid, I can vividly remember how the virtues of truth-telling, honesty, integrity, respect, self-sacrifice, and hardworking were emphasized in schools and the community at large. At that time, people who demonstrated those virtues in their day-to-day activities were usually treated with high regard and honor. I can remember even in businesses, the people that demonstrate honesty in their deals usually get more customers than those who cheat. People can trek long distances to their shops or malls in order to buy things.

However, as time went by, there was a massive shift in values and preferences among people generally in the society. Honesty, truth, respect, self-sacrifice, hardworking and integrity are no longer at the top of the scale. Money, materialism, and power have now climbed the top of the scale. People who demonstrated to have possessed wealth (money, cars, buildings, etc.) are the subjects of discussion and role models in society today. They are the ones who are respected and celebrated. As a result, the younger generations strive to become like them so that they also can be respected and celebrated. 

Many Business owners no longer have humanity at heart. They lack honesty and integrity in their businesses. They are largely concerned with making money even at the expense of society's well-being. That's why today, you can go to the market and see fake products- contaminated food items that can expose the general public to health challenges. I was amazed when I found out that even cooking oil is sometimes mixed with other chemicals that are very harmful to health just to increase the quantity and make money; not to talk of expired products that are repackaged and sold- out to the public.

Similarly, some years ago, respect was not earned just by the amount of wealth one possessed but rather by the contents of his/her character. It is unfortunate that now respect is seen as a trick to get something from someone. Even our upcoming children are subconsciously trained to respect only those that can give them something. Just try coming back home without carrying anything in your hand. You would pass many neighborhood children, and none of them would care to say welcome back or greet you. But when they see you carrying something, even a small black nylon bag, they would run and welcome you, as they anticipate getting something from you. (This was not the kind of welcoming that was previously upheld in the society- that when a younger person sees an elderly person carrying a load, he/she would usually go and offer help, not necessarily for the things he would get).

Society has literally shifted its values to materialism. This shifting has created a sense of insecurity among members of the society who don't have material possession, and as they don't want to be left out or be irrelevant in the affairs of their communities, a quiet number of them are going the extra miles across all directions to acquire wealth in order to remain relevant in the society. Some of them in businesses overcharged or hiked prices of goods deliberately just to get high income without having consideration for the lower class members of the community who cannot afford. Some others engage in fraudulent activities just to make money so they too can be respected!

Some other members of the society are diving into acts of criminality such as armed robbery, stealing, kidnapping, etc., in order to get riches. Where is our humanity? Killing a human being in order to take away his resources? I once heard a story of someone who stabbed an innocent young man to dead and took away his smartphone just to prove to his circles that he was now a big boy because of the type of phone he was holding. When has holding an expensive smartphone become a virtue? Many ladies are giving themselves out to be slept with in order to receive expensive smartphones or cash in return just to prove to people around them that they are of high class now. Society has consciously or subconsciously shifted their respect to those who have expensive smartphones and gadgets as exceptional people and often time are seen as people who meet up with the new trend. With such kinds of attitudes in society, won't you find others following suit in order to feel among others? 

Recently, a student in a certain University in Nigeria died after sustaining burnt injuries from a fire accident while cooking, which was said to have occurred as a result of using contaminated kerosene. The sellers do such mixed-up just to get more money, even at the expense of human life! Where is humanity in this? Where is the humanity in kidnapping a human being just to collect ransom? In many instances, the kidnapped victims are killed even after a ransom is paid. These are the things we would be experiencing in our society when we place materialism above humanity and virtues that promote peace and stability. 

The most unfortunate thing is that society is subconsciously creating a system that is putting pressure on the younger ones, leading to their engagement in criminal activities. They told them that they are failures if they can't own a house or a car of their own at a certain age. Similarly, materialism has taken over the marriage procession instead of love and responsibility. So much burden is placed on suitors who want to marry, and if they cannot afford to provide the requested materials, they are tagged irresponsible and failures, even though they have work that can help cater for the family's needs.

Does the above narrative suggest that having wealth or material possession is bad? No, rather, it's showing us that material possession should never be PLACED above HUMANITY. Wealth, money, or fame should not be pursued at the expense of society's well-being. The virtues of love, honesty, integrity, peace, justice, hardworking and HUMANITY as a whole should be given priority in society. Mahatma Gandhi of India once outlined seven social sins in society that needed to be corrected for the society's common good. These are:

  1. Wealth without work
  2. Pleasure without conscience
  3. Knowledge without character
  4. Commerce without morality
  5. Science without humanity
  6. Religion without sacrifice
  7. Politics without principles

An eighth social sin was later added by his grandson, and it's: 

Rights without Responsibilities.

These social sins prevail in society as a result of the shift in moral values, which ultimately affect the entire society. The above-mentioned Social sins can literally be found in our society today, leading to the destruction of our peace, harmonious living, and general well-being. Therefore, it's important that we review our moral values, which we consciously or subconsciously alter. It is high time we uphold back the virtues of integrity, honesty, honor, love, peace, justice, hardworking and morality for the common good of society.

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