“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.” - Albert Camus
It is becoming more and more depressing and distressing to read the news. Is it a sign of me getting older that I cannot understand what is happening around the world? Or is it a symptom of our declining civilisation? Is it perhaps an indication of the degeneracy of our younger generation? Could it be that we are seeing evidence of a relaxation of morals and a complete loss of the sense of shame and self-respect that allows people to act in ways that hardly qualify as human? The religious amongst us will be prompted to reply that it is due to our loss of faith – godlessness breeds lawlessness and encourages vice, it may be said…
It is hard to open a paper, look at the news items on the internet, or hear the news on the radio or TV and not become aware of numerous reports of heinous crimes, big swindles, sex offences, crimes against children and elderly people, senseless villainy, outrageous acts that people commit not only unflinchingly, but sometimes also take pride in boasting about.
The latest news today was of the 17-year old youth who is accused of bludgeoning his parents to death with a hammer, and while their bloody bodies lay in the bedroom, he hosted a party. This is the terrible case of Tyler Hadley of Florida who has been charged with twin counts of first-degree murder, which apparently happened on Saturday. Blake and Mary-Jo Hadley, his parents, are thought to have been struck with the hammer in their heads and torsos sometime after their son posted on Facebook around 1:15pm on Saturday alerting friends to an evening party at his house, north of West Palm Beach. The bodies of the hapless pair were moved into the bedroom and the door locked, and later that evening about 60 people attended the party, which was loud enough to prompt a noise complaint and a visit by police. When they arrived at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday to warn about the noise, the party was already breaking-up. The police received a tip later that morning that a murder may have taken place. They returned to the home at 4:20 a.m., finding the bodies covered with towels, files, books and other household items, and the hammer between them.
What prompted this reprehensible crime that goes against all that our society holds sacred and lawful? What could have caused this young man to kill in such a violent manner his 47-year-old mother, an elementary school teacher, and his 54-year-old father, who worked for a power company? If one could take look at the family’s photo albums, their family videos, their lounge room, what would they find? Innumerable pieces of evidence of the parents’ love for their child, a record of birthday parties, Halloween costume photos, prizes from school for good work or sporting achievements, marks of an ordinary life full of hope and affectionate reminders of numerous proud milestones of Tyler’s growing up. What went wrong?
In the UK, a father and daughter are facing gaol after they got reunited on the Internet after two decades apart only to start an illicit sexual relationship. Nicola Yates, 26 and her biological father Andrew Butler, 46, confessed to being guilty of incest. They were revealed to be living streets apart in Birmingham for many years and found each other after using a family tracing website. Yates was 20 at the time and Butler was said to be in a relationship with another woman but soon the father and the daughter began living as “girlfriend and boyfriend”. Their relationship reportedly emerged when Yates’s shocked family discovered the pair had become lovers. Four years ago they had been apprehended for the same charges, and Yates was punished with a community order for 18 months and her father had been sentenced four months in jail. The new charges are now for a repeat offence, when the pair flouted the taboos of society, laws of the land, and the sensibilities of the other family members.
Even if one has been separated from one’s parents from birth, surely whatever sexual attraction there may be when one is reunited with them in adulthood, must go immediately cold when one discovers the truth! Such is our social conditioning that this prohibition must become active in our minds whenever there is any hint of an incestuous relationship developing. With good biological reason too, as the risk of genetic disease of the offspring increases greatly in such unions.
The phone-hacking scandal of the Murdoch media empire and the allegations of police payoffs, gross breach of privacy, illicit activities of every kind, reveal a frightening lack of morality and complete disregard of ethical behaviour. Especially so when the profession involved is journalism where honesty, truth and impartiality should be held in the highest regard as ideals to be striven for. Now, with the Murdochs’ most trusted lieutenant, Rebekah Brooks , arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and paying the police for information, the $12 billion bid for the satellite company British Sky Broadcasting bid abandoned, the 168-year-old News of the World closed down, and nine others arrested, Rupert and James Murdoch are to face an enraged British Parliament.
The July 13th triple-bomb blasts in Mumbai, in which 21 people have been killed and many more injured is yet another in a long line of religious and nationalistic violence that has plagued the subcontinent for such a long time now. We must remember that the fifth anniversary of the Mumbai train blasts that killed more than 180 commuters fell on 11 July. Suspicion has fallen on the Indian Mujahideen, an Islamic militant group linked to Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba that has claimed past terrorist attacks using similar explosives.
In neighbouring Pakistan, The Taliban have released a video that seems to show the execution of a group of police officers. The video shows 16 police officers lined up and killed on a hillside in north-western Pakistan, appears to be authentic said Pakistani police. Taliban gunmen accuse the captives of betraying Islam and killing six children, and then open fire on them with automatic weapons, killing all of the police, who slump dead to the ground. Pakistani security officials say the video was taken last month after insurgents overran a checkpoint in the Upper Dir district near the border with Afghanistan. Military officials have described the executions as merciless.
Economic crisis, crumbling financial situations, nations facing bankruptcy, violent demonstrations, massive protests, unemployment, strikes, discontent…
And that is just a small sample in the last few days. How many more such reports I have read and despaired over! Every day something new, more insanity, more depravity, more loss of our collective humanity. Then again, on reflection, I have to admit that none of this is new. London had its Jack the Ripper in the 19th century. Religious fanaticism is nothing new – look at he Crusades! Wars, murder, sex crimes, incest, deceit, power games, rich and powerful men getting away with illicit activities have occurred again and again throughout history. What we see nowadays of course is the ease of communication delivering every item of news to us relentlessly and continually. What is to be determined is whether this will be for our benefit. Will such an inundation with information and rapidly delivered news make us strive to be better or will it complete inure us and degrade further our crumbling moral sense?