The Changing Face of Morality

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Morality is a loaded term these days. It used to be a measure of right and wrong, good versus bad behavior and was clearly defined by our society. In recent years, it’s been used a weapon of hate against targeted populations, or to attempt to elevate one group above another, often evoking images of judgment and condemnation.

We live in a time of moral ambiguity where there is a tendency to shy away from declarations of moral absolutes. One can argue a justification for pretty much anything—from jaywalking to murder. The “Twinkie defense” (famously used back in 1979 during the defense of Dan White for murder claiming that the change in his diet from healthy foods to sugary snacks caused his behavior) opened the floodgates for situational ethics. There is a fine line between mercy and justice, and I’m not suggesting that we go back to an “eye for an eye” system of mores. But I do believe that when we deny that there is a right and wrong, we risk sliding into a morass of moral decay from which there is no return.

These same shifts in defining ethical behavior are also reflected in popular culture. While the anti-hero has always had a place in pop culture—my favorite movie, The Godfather, is a classic example. It romanticized a crime family to the point where the mafia seemed more upright than the police. But, the Godfather was the exception, not the rule. Now the anti-hero has supplanted the traditional hero.

Twenty years ago, no one would have imagined that the hero of a show could be a serial killer—but Dexter’s charm quickly overshadowed any lingering reservations about rooting for him. The popularity of shows like: Breaking Bad, Weeds, Orange is the New Black, and Scandal demonstrate the public’s appetite for good people behaving badly.

It was actually this shift in television and movie content that got me starting to think about THE VERITAS DECEPTION. My father passed away in 1977 and years later I would think “He would be in shock if he came back suddenly and saw these shows.” That’s when it hit me, that it was happening so slowly, no one realized it. I wondered, what if there was an intentional, orchestrated, campaign to attack morality and distract individuals from their true purpose in life? These were the seeds from which THE VERITAS DECEPTION was born. Ironically, some of my original show ideas for the book actually became shows by the time I finished writing it and I had to ramp things up even more.

I don’t think there is one individual or even a group of individuals who have orchestrated the decline in morality we see, and I would guess there are many who argue that there is no decline. There is a thread running through the book which speaks to a spiritual battle played out on the landscape of society. This resonates more with me than the idea of a particular group of individuals conspiring.

Do I think it can be stopped? Sadly, no. I don’t think there is any turning back, but I do think there’s hope. We can make our own choices to love, forgive, and tolerate. Good and evil are nothing new. But evil triumphs when it can make others believe it doesn’t exist.


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