Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Return to Ethics in Society

In a world of degrading values, we must make a commitment to stand for Christ-like values, such as morality, integrity, civility, love, etc. The most long-lasting and truly effective means of saving a society from self-destruction is not in new policy but by the upholding of traditional values in the lives of individuals and families. Those in professional fields of communication have an obligation to themselves, their society, and to God, to “stand for something” good when it seems that no one else will.


“As we look with love and gratitude to God, and as we serve others with no apparent recompense for ourselves, there will come a greater sense of service toward our fellow human beings, less thinking of self and more reaching out to others” (pg. 11).


“Without honesty, our lives disintegrate into ugliness, chaos, and a lack of any kind of security and confidence. Imagine a society in which it would be unwise or unsafe to trust anyone—from elected officials to financial advisers to insurance adjusters to your child's babysitter or kindergarten teacher” (pg. 18).

Media, as in the case of morals, preaches that dishonesty is tolerable and, in many instances, acceptable. “We are barraged with vivid displays of dishonesty on the nightly news. The media parade before us a veritable procession of deception in its many ugly forms” (pg. 20).

A business's level of integrity depends on the integrity of its workers: “Indeed, the strength and safety of any organization—including the family—lie in the integrity of its members. Witout personal integrity, there can be no confidence” (pg. 21).


Many of the worlds problems would be solved if traditional morals were kept. Too many issues stem from a new “freedom” promulgated by media.

“Our legislatures and courts are affected by this wave [of immorality]... This is done in the name of freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of choice in so-called personal matters. But the abuse of these freedoms has yielded enslavement to degrading habits, and behavior that leads only to destruction.” (pg. 40)

A majority of Americans, referring to Michael Medved from his book Hollywood vs. America, object to the amount of violence and immorality found in Hollywood films. “The producers of this trash are out of step with the feelings of mainstream America. But in their obsession, they are without doubt influencing and leading millions down a course that invites all too many to readjust their personal moral standards.” (pg. 40)

It is ignorant to think that hours of watching immoral behavior on television has no effect on one's life. Advertisers are willing to pay millions for a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl. “Apparently, a host of advertisers felt confident that in thirty seconds' time they could influence their viewers to buy the products or services they were peddling” (pg. 42).

Life changes under small turns. It is not the few monumental events which stake our direction, but the many small choices and pressures that we face everyday—especially during a time when we are inundated with media. “The lesson of the switch point is similar to the workings of a large and heavy farm gate. Such a gate moves very little at the hinges but a long way out at the circumference” (pg. 47).

“The kingdom of God is not a democracy. Wickedness and righteousness are not legislated by majority vote. Right and wrong are not determined by polls or pundits, though many would have us believe otherwise” (pg. 50).


Within the walls of our own nation, we are losing civility to gangs and violence. “A study sponsored by the National Insitute of Justice concluded that crime costs Americans at least 450 billion dollars a year... The Defense Department's budget in 1995 was 252 billion dollars, so the cost of crime is essentially twice the amount we spend to defend our nation” (pg. 58).

Weakening civility begins with a descending courtesy. President Hinckley quoted a writer: “'The hip heroes of movies today deliver gratuitous put-downs to ridicule and belittle anyone who gets in their way. Bad manners, apparently, make a saleable commodity” (pg. 58).

The degradation of language with vulgarity, rudeness and crudeness is a major factor in our lack of civility.

“This is the essence of civility—to extend, without price, a helping or lifting hand to those in need; to anxiously look for ways to strengthen those who may have less than we do” (pg. 62).


Education is the process of making abstract ideas useful and training the mind and body. There are unfortunate avenues that draw us away from true education: “May I be so bold as to suggest that far too many people spend far too much time mesmerized by the mindless drivel that too often inhabits television airwaves, videos, and other forms of electronic media” (pg. 70).

“It has been estimated that the average child in the United States watches something approaching 8,000 hours of television before he or she even begins school” (pg. 72).

Learning should continue throughout one's life: “The more we learn, the more we are in a position to learn” (pg. 71).

Knowledge comes from God. President Hinckley quotes Brigham Young as saying that all knowledge comes from a divine source, whether thinkers choose to believe it or not (pg. 78).

Forgivenss and Mercy

Holding onto grudges holds back progression while it cankers the soul. This attitude causes many problems in the professional world of business. “We need them among business associates who quarrel and refuse to compromise or forgive when, in most instances, a willingness to sit down together, exercise compassion, and speak quietly one to another could resolve the matter to the blessing of all” (pg. 82).

“We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount... Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living” (pg 83 -General Omar Bradley).

Thrift and Industry

A society without the virtue of quality work cannot last. Individuals who do not cherish work, will miss the purpose and meaning of life: “The process of stretching our minds and utilizing the skills of our hands lifts us from the stagnation of mediocrity” (pg. 95).

Thrift and industry allow a family to be strong and independent. This in turns builds a strong nation (pg. 97).

Excessive debt is the enemy and opposite of thrift. It is especially rampant during our current time of a global economic crisis. “Bankruptcy generally is the bitter fruit of debt, overextension, and uncontrolled appetites. It is a tragic culmination of a simple process of borrowing more than one can repay. I deplore waste. I deplore unnecessary and uncontrolled extravagance. I value thrift” (pg. 97).

The media plays a heavy role in a society want of thrift: “Seductive advertising strives to persuade us that we deserve to have it all and have it now, regardless of the cost. There is a lack of self-discipline and financial self-control that promises future doom” (pg. 98).


Those who live in this country should be extremely grateful for what they have. “Gratitude is a sign of maturity. It is an indication of sincere humility. It is a hallmark of civility” (pg. 106).

There are a host of things that we can be grateful for. Among other things, President Hinckley mentions his gratitude for his belief in God and Jesus Christ. He also shares his gratitude for a religiously free society. “Our television screens have carried into our own homes the demonstrations and cries of many people for freedom and liberty concerning basic human rights that we take for granted” (pg. 113). Thus, the extensive world coverage that we receive on the news should promote us to gratitude more than anything else.


The media is a major factor for a poor world outlook. The news is constantly barraging us with stories of death, deceit and carnage. “Pick up any major daily newspaper or weekly news magazine, or turn to the news on any one of the many available channels. It is impossible to read the columns or listen to the commentaries without sensing that there is a terrible ailment of gloom in this land” (pg. 115-116).

Many of the well educated writers have lent themselves entirely to negativism. This kind oft attitude makes society a weak as people become stagnant and critical of their surroundings. “This spirit of negativism grows and begins to hang as a cloud over the land, providing a misleading portrait of the facts and, in the process, reaching down to the individual man and woman and influencing attitudes, outlook, and even values” (pg. 116).

Faith in one's self and in others lifts the soul to accomplish much good. “What wonders we can accomplish when others have faith in us! No leader can long succeed in any society without the confidence of the people. It is so with our daily associations” (pg. 122).


“We simply cannot do as much alone as we can when we team our efforts with the divine” (pg. 128).

“Without preservation and cultivation of the things spiritual, our material success will be as ashes in our mouths. The spirit is as much a part of a person as is the body, and it too needs nourishment—the nourishment born of faith in and devotion to a Supreme Being” (pg. 131).

According to President Hinckley, a spiritual perspective is essential for a healthy society.

Prayer is an essential part of virtuous and faithful living.

President Hinckley clearly has a powerful perspective on living righteously. The problem that faces value-driven students, about to enter the job force, is the fact that these students are becoming the minorities in their conviction to morals. Thus, it requires increasingly more effort and especially conviction to “stand for something” right. Business's goal is to make money. Advertising (my major) seeks only to increase the bottom line of the client. However, media without ethics will drag society into destruction. Hinckley predicts our society to become desolate of real peace and happiness—an environment of increased war and poverty is the direction we are heading if we continue to ignore traditional values.

As future media professionals, we have the charge to uphold these values rather than following the crowd which currently exists in Hollywood and across advertising and news agencies. On a priority scale, Hinckley makes it clear that ethics in the workplace are more important than business profit.

With this charge in mind, Communication professionals who believe in these ideals such as honesty and morality should be prepared and willing to set ethics above their positions, salaries, bonuses, etc. What does this necessarily mean to the average editor for a local newspaper or the photographer in an ad agency? The editor must choose to remove eye-catching, sensational material from his or her paper which contains false statements. The photographer must stand up against the ideal that “sex sells” in providing imagery for magazine ads.

Going against the norm of shoddy morals and slacking integrity could mean losing one's job, or being held from rising in company position. This is can often be a very difficult position to take, especially when the right side is not so apparent. However, according to Hinckley and my own personal opinion, true, traditional ethics must be upheld by individuals in order for any change to occur in society.

I find a connection in Hinckley's thoughts with those of Moulton in his Moulton model. That is that a foundation of ethics in society provides a buffer zone between free choice and law—an optimum soft-spot between anarchy and totalitarianism. It is vital that we uphold to traditional ethics, rather than skewed modern ethics. Finally, we must remember that the only way to propel the process of elevating our ethics is the application of ethics in our individual lives.

Hinckley, Gordon Bitner. Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes. Three Rivers Pr. 2001

Thursday, March 19, 2009

D&C 42:22–23. “Marriage Presupposes Total Allegiance and Fidelity”

“When the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: ‘Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shalt cleave unto him and none else.’

“The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. We sometimes find women who absorb and hover over the children at the expense of the husband, sometimes even estranging them from him.

“The Lord says to them: ‘Thou shalt cleave unto him and none else.’

“Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity. Each spouse takes the partner with the understanding that he or she gives totally to the spouse all the heart, strength, loyalty, honor, and affection, with all dignity. Any divergence is sin; any sharing of the heart is transgression. As we should have ‘an eye single to the glory of God,’ so should we have an eye, an ear, a heart single to the marriage and the spouse and family.” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 142–43.)

Source: D&C Student Manual