What's going on in this country? All one has to do is turn on the TV or listen to the radio and the cases of unethical and immoral behavior seem to be everywhere. Whether they involve politicians, sports figures, Hollywood celebrities or even your average American, the incidence of unconscionable or deviant behavior in this society is increasing at an alarming rate.
Ethics is generally defined as a set of moral values or principles. Ethics and morality are terms that are often used interchangeably and both relate to judgments of right versus wrong. In practice ethics are typically applied to business dealings while morality is generally applied to societal issues. The question is; are either of them relevant in the American society of today?
A case in point: Penn State University is reeling from a scandal involving immoral actions and unethical behavior on the part of high level officials. In an atmosphere of apparent tranquility, reports of sexual molestation including rape, involving eight young boys ages 10 to 14, suddenly erupted and brought shock and disbelief to that university campus and the entire nation.
Let's examine this scandal from two distinctly opposite views: in the first, there is Penn State, a prestigious university; a legendary, nationally acclaimed football coach, his defensive coordinator who was also the head of a foundation for underprivileged children, and the university president. These were all very respected, upstanding people, right? At least, that is how it appeared on the surface.
But just below the surface a dark side was emerging; something very obscene that now has turned this university upside down. Quite suddenly the defensive coordinator was arrested and charged with various crimes involving sexual assault and molestation. Subsequently, the athletic director and the VP of finance were arrested and charged with perjury and failure to report the alleged incidents; the famous, iconic coach and the respected president were fired.
So, on the surface everything was just fine in this university town, an area fondly referred to as "Happy Valley." But the situation has now become a living nightmare, not only for the young victims, but also for the entire university, its faculty, its leadership, and the students who will likely never be able to forget this tragedy. And as for the future of its football program, it will be forever stained.
Here is further evidence that the abuse of our young children is reaching alarming proportions. A recent national study of students in grades seven through twelve, made by American Association of University Women (ASUW), indicates that 48% of them had experienced some form of sexual harassment by another student, either physically, by text or e-mail. Our younger generation is under siege by misfits who apparently have not been taught the difference between right and wrong.
Talk about incomprehensible, inexcusable moral behavior, what about this article about the U.S. Air Force Dover, Delaware mortuary that speaks of dead troops' bodies or body parts being cremated and thrown into a landfill in Virginia. How very bizarre is that? It is a terrible insult to those service members who America honors; those about whom it is often said, "They have given their lives in the service of this nation."