American Ethics

American Ethics

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William J. Bennett once wrote, “My friend had observed that while the world still regards the United States as the leading economic and military power on earth, this same world no longer beholds us with the moral respect it once did, as a “shinning city on a hill” Instead, it sees a society in decline.” This statement is very true of America’s ethics today. The problems with ethics in America are the medias influence on the population, religious influences on the population, and the way we society influences the way we raise our children.

     The first main contribution to what is wrong with America’s ethics is the medias influence on the population as a whole. In “What Really Ails America” William J. Bennett writes, “Last year, Snoop Doggy Dog, indicted for murder, saw his rap album “Doggystyle,” which celebrates marijuana use and the degradation of women, debut at No.1 on the pop charts.”(343). In a society where children worship movie stars, signers, and sport stars, how can we let this happen. The children who listen to this music are being brainwashed by explicated lyrics and vulgar language. Parents should make it a point to proof any books, music, or movies that their children are buying to censor the unpleasant happenings in them. We cannot let our children learn of life through these stars because only the family knows of true family values. Again in the same essay


Bennett States. “In one recent two-week period, these shows featured cross dressing couples, a three-way love affair, a man who fools women into thinking he is using a condom during sex, and prostitutes who love their job. These shows present a two-edged problem: people want to expose themselves, and other people want to watch.”(343). The media will go the extra mile to make a buck. They have no regard for who is watching. The show “Jerry Springer” is a great example of these shows, which expose people lives to others. These kinds of shows are played at times when our children are still awake, meaning they are able to view them. The children of America should be watching shows that exhibit learning and fun themes. By watching the shows Bennett talks about put images and ideologies in children’s heads that the actions on television are good. Children have the mindset to idolize people they see on television, so why let your children watch prostitutes when they could be watching Big Bird on Sesame Street.

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Finally at the end of his essay Bennett writes, “During the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Damian Williams was filmed crushing an innocents man skull with a brick, while Henry Watson held the victim down. When Williams was finished, he did a victory dance. Watson and William’s lawyers them built a legal defense on the premise that people cannot be held accountable for getting caught up in mob violence.”(344). How can a person get away with a crime when it was video taped on national television? The idea that the courts put into millions of kids heads in American is that it is okay to hurt someone because you can be acquitted if you know the right. When a famous person is inedited on charges and somehow gets off with a slap on a wrist, it is a tragedy. Our children are growing up seeing people on television get away with murder. What kind of


ideas does this put in there heads? The media has no moral decency when putting shows on television or in the movies.

     The next problem that America has in ethics and religion is the influence of religion on our society. In “the Culture of Disbelief” Spencer L. Carter writes, “We are one of the most religious nations on earth, in the sense we have a deeply religious citizenry; but we are also perhaps the most zealous in guarding our public institution against explicit religious influences. One result is that we often ask our citizens to split their public and private selves, telling them in effect that it is fine to be religious in private, but there is something askew when those private beliefs become the basis for public action.”(377). It is ones value’s that they want to practice religion. In a country where “freedom” is a motto, we are not allowed to practice religion in public places. The public’s influences on children to find a religion are very strong. But when one tries to practice religion he or she is ridiculed by others. Later in the same essay Carter states, “How did we reach this disturbing pass, when our culture teaches that religion is not to be taken seriously, even by those who profess to believe in it.”(376). Carter is trying to say is that religion is a sacred entity and Americans today take in for granted. When the public sees the President having a love affair with a woman on one television program and sees him going to church on the an other, what are we supposed to think? If our children see the highest man in America having sexual relations with a woman other then his wife, it puts different ideas in their head. Our children are getting ideas of religion from the wrong people and with the medias coverage of most of idolized people in America they are seeing it way to often. Lastly in “What Really Ails America” Bennett


states, “Most important, we must return religion to its proper place. Religion provides us with moral bearings, and the solution to our chief problem of spiritual improvements depends on spiritual renewal. The surrendering of strong beliefs, in our private and public lives, has demoralized society.”(345). Bennett is trying to say without morals in a society there can be no ethics. The people of America are being cheated of religion because they are not being able to practice in public or in private. The government in today society is regulating religion. That is one of the reasons why America revolted against Britain in the 1700’s. The influence of religion by not being able to practice is one-way America is being demoralized.

     The final problem with ethics in Americas is the effect our society has on our children. In “What Really Ails America” Bennett writes, “Recently, a Washington, D.C, cabdriver- a graduate student from Africa- told me that when he receives his degree, he is returning to his homeland. His reason? He doesn’t want his children to grow up in a country where his daughter will be an “easy target” for young men and where his son might also be a target for violence at the hands of other young males.”(342). This statement clearly shows how others view America. For a person not to want to raise his children in a country with the leading economy in the world shows how bad Americans ethics really are. Men see woman as objects and something to use in America, although this it is wrong. Television shows are the biggest influence on our children, shows that demoralize women, show the use of drugs, and use curse words freely are shown daily when kids are able to view them. What our children see on television they repeat in public. Not having censors in our society makes it easier to influence the children of our


nation. In “I listen to my Parents and I Wonder What They Believe” Robert Coles writes, “Here is a nine-year-old white boy, the son of ardent segregationists, telling me about his sense of what desegregation meant to Louisiana in the 1960’s: they told us it wouldn’t happen- never. My daddy said none of us white people would go into schools with the colored… we didn’t know what to do, the teacher kept telling us that we should be good and obey the law, but my daddy said the law was wrong.”(339). Coles is saying that or children are getting mixed signals from two different important figures in their lives. Parents are teaching their children the values which they want to, but outside interference from society is also battling for a say in our children’s lives. Sometimes the outside values from society can be good, but when television, friends, and other influences are bad it affects the children of our nation as well. In the end it is the child’s choice of whom to listen to but if the society is pressuring too much, like toady’s society they give in to it. Later in Coles essay he writes, “Children not only need our understanding of their complicated emotional lives; they also need a constant regard for the moral issues that come their way as soon as they are old enough to play with others and take part in the politics of the nursery, the back yard and the schoolroom.”(340). Coles is saying that as parents, Americans need to talk to their children about the pressures of the outside world when they first enter into it. By going to school kids are being taught to do wrong things by others. When a child can acknowledge something that is being told or showed to them is wrong they can put it in their mind that it is wrong. In all of the society influences on our children, I believe that if the parents talk to their children it will better help our society in the future.


William J. Bennett in “What Really Ails America” he writes, “America desperately needs to recover the purpose of education, which is to provide for the intellectual and moral education of the young. Plato made that point that good education makes good men, and good men act nobly.” I strongly agree with this statement America has in recent years look down on the importance of education. Education is where it all starts for a person. Your first friends, words, and actions are in school. If school was taken much more seriously in America, like Plato said we would be more nobly. This is what Americans lack in ethics. But the main reasons for what is wrong with are the medias influence on the population, religion influence on the population and the societies influence on our children. Our children are our future and the worlds’ influence on them changes their lives drastically, as Robert Coles once said, ”not so long ago children were looked upon in a sentimental fashion as “angles” or as “innocents”…but know they are seen to have complicated inner lives; to feel love, hate, and envy.”

Works Cited

1. Bennett, William J. “What really Ails America” McGraw-Hill Reader.

Gilbert H. Muller, Ed. Boston McGraw-Hill, 2000 (342-346)

2. Carter, Stephen L. “The Culture Of Disbelief” McGraw-Hill Reader.

          Gilbert H. Muller, Ed. Boston McGraw-Hill, 2000 (373-382)

3. Coles, Robert “I Listen to My Parents and I wonder What They Believe”

          McGraw-Hill Reader. Gilbert H. Muller, Ed. Boston

          McGraw-Hill, 2000 (337-341)

4. Muller, Gilbert H. Ed. The McGraw-Hill Reader

          Boston. McGraw-Hill, 2000

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