Vol.XVIII No.X Pg.1
December 1981

The "Heart" Of Ethics

Robert F. Turner

An AP article quotes Mark Cannon, a Supreme Court top aide, as saying school administrators should resume teaching ethics and moral commitment in the classroom. "While it is not the role of the public schools to promote religion," he wrote, "...research shows it is practical to teach ethics in junior high schools, high schools and at college levels."

Mr. Cannon is said' to have written "A free political system can only function effectively if there exists widespread ethical commitment and responsibility, a willingness to sacrifice for long-term gain, and a respect for the law among the citizenry." He wrote that alcoholism, poverty and perceived social injustice contribute to the nation's crime rate, but said, "these merely tip the raft of social disorder while a deep current is moving the entire raft at a startling speed." Further, "That deep current is our failure to transmit positive values, norms and attachments from one generation to another." He added, teaching "an understanding of the moral foundations of our legal system is as important as teaching the law itself. (emphasis mine, rt)

I believe Mr. Cannon is right in saying it is not the role of public schools to promote religion, but that they could assist in moral and ethical training. However this combination poses some problems, including the establishment of moral incentive. Both civil and divine law seem as task masters when on stone or law books alone. They must be "written in the heart" (2 Cor. 3: Heb. 8:) — coupled with love and respect for the law giver. That is hard to gender in a selfish, atheistic "me-ism" society.

Ethics and morals grow out of respect for something higher and greater than ourselves. Patriotism, or respect for society seems logical candidates, but these have worked reasonably well in the past because people felt some higher power gave them validity. The Ten Commandments differed from law codes of men by first establishing GOD as the giver, and calling for submission to HIM. What can truly take the place of "In God We Trust"?

Someday mankind will realize faith in God is pragmatic and workable in every aspect of this life. Let us hope that realization is not too late.