Are we the ‘morally bankrupt’ generation?


Borders of what is considered morally right get pushed every year. 100 years ago, it would be highly inappropriate to dress and speak the way we do now. However, nowadays, it is perfectly fine to parade oneself on streets, in just leggings and a leather jacket. Sarcasm has become the jargon of 21st century and similarly, what is seen as unacceptable today, might be normal in fifty years.

Let’s try to imagine possible changes that may occur. Legalising corruption, making prostitution an official business, and establishment of marriage infidelity are examples. Do you think that jokes about dying people could be funny? You probably don’t, but your grandchildren might, they may well mock you in your last hour.

Indeed, humour, exaggeration and irony are the principles that makes the most controversial behaviour legitimate. The basic idea is that as long as you mean no harm by it, it does not matter what you do. To demonstrate this, let’s take two students from Chester who for Halloween dressed up as the burning twin towers from 9/11. Of course they meant no harm by it, it was just a joke, just a way to get attention. And indeed, attention they got it. They won the competition for the best costume. Their prank was by no means accepted by everybody. The owners of the nightclub themselves condemned the performance and the DJ’s judgement of it. Nevertheless, discussion was aroused and there were people who found the student’s idea original. In 99 cases out of 100, what is discussed is usually for some reason, accepted and normalised. Once we get used to certain behaviour, society seems to no longer view it as wrong.

Our perception is nothing static, nobody ever wants to do bad things, that doesn’t change. However, the word “bad” represents a very vague, variable term. My personal opinion is that no person’s purpose is evil. Yet people do evil things, justifying them for good. Do phrases like “She was asking for it… I was just too shattered to carry on… It was just a moment when I lost my mind… He was always bad to me…” sound somewhat familiar? Do they sound like something each and every one of us uses in certain situations?

Another aspect of what is occasionally referred to as “the decadence of 21st century” is the emergence of reverse ideologies. It has never been so hard to come up with something new, as it is now. Controversy seems to work as the best to catch attention. Celebrities use it on regular basis to maintain their declining fame. We see and hear about those popular figures every day, and even unconsciously, we get affected by them. Therefore, “controversial” is becoming a synonym for original. Being daring is seen as empowering, instead of being honest, or moderate. Being bad is seen as empowering, because it is entertaining. Fun, and the means of seizing it, is becoming a higher value than morals. I am quite sure that because of writing this article, I will be seen by some as “no fun”.

On the other hand, despite my quite pessimistic description of the recent ‘decadence’, there is much evidence in literature and contemporary writings that every generation in modern history has been seen as more corrupt and immoral that the one before. Shifting and adjusting values we set for ourselves is natural. Nevertheless, we should all think about what we do, not just about what we get from it. We should each think what kind of person we wish to be, not just in other peoples’ eyes, but in our own as well.

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