Thursday, January 21, 2016

Our Deteriorating Moral Values

by Anton Antonio
January 22, 2016

Is there a direct relationship between environmental degradation and our deteriorating moral values?  If not, what then is causing environmental degradation?  If yes, which among our set of moral values that directly or indirectly contributes to environmental degradation?

Moral values are directly related to ethical standards.  Ethics is a set of moral principles that govern a person’s or a group’s behaviour.  Ethical standards are principles, that when followed, promote values such as trust, good behaviour, fairness, and/or kindness.  There is not one set of standards that the citizens of a particular country follow; although each country/race is bestowed with the right to develop ethical standards that could have positive meaning to their society.  Ethical standards, however, may not always be easily enforceable as they are frequently vaguely defined and open to individual interpretation.  Besides, ethical standards are the result of continuous practices (traditional or new) that become part of a developed culture.  In fact, some moral standards apply well to some races/societies but have negative impacts to others.  On the other hand, moral values are moral, ethical, righteous, noble mean that conform to a standard of what is right and good.  Moral implies conformity to established sanctioned codes or accepted notions of right and wrong.

A lot of socio-environmental scientists closely relate moral values to the actual state of the environment.  They have also indentified the causes of environmental degradation to concepts that are social or societal in nature.  These are:  GREED – Described as the inordinate desire to possess wealth and material possessions of abstract value with the intention to sustain oneself far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort.  There are also those who have a high degree of desire for status and power which leads them to be greedy.  The Philippine political system does a lot in contributing to and encouraging people to embrace greed as a way of life;  APATHY – Defined as the lack or absence of feeling, emotion, interest or concern from people.  An apathetic person has an absence of interest in or concern about the emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and physical life of people around him… and also the physical elements (the world in general and the environment in particular).  Most people prefer not to get involved and stay away from contemptuous issues such as the environment simply because it is more convenient; and, LACK OF KNOWLEDGE AND AWARENESS – Ignorance and naivete are two of the most destructive characters of man and, because of this, it becomes hard for him to understand negative environmental implications.  It is openly said that sometimes people don’t realize the wrongs they do and cause simply because they do not know or (at the very least) aware that they are doing wrong.

Greed, apathy and the lack of knowledge and awareness can only result to intellectual and real poverty.  Poverty is a condition where people’s needs for food, clothing and shelter are not being met.  There are generally two types of poverty:  (1) Absolute poverty is synonymous with destitution and occurs when people cannot have adequate resources to support a minimum level of physical health; and, (2) Relative poverty which occurs when people do not enjoy a certain minimum level of living standards as determined by a government.  Relative poverty, however, varies from country to country but is said to be increasing and could never be eradicated.

Social scientists often use the state of a country’s environment as a yardstick to measure the level of their moral values.  The Philippines, hardly a developing country and one of the first to be affected by climate change-related disasters, has given less attention and concern to its environment and has abused and exploited its natural resources.  Philippine urban centers are good models on how to pollute land, air and water and mismanage the ecosystem.  Is this also a sign of our deteriorating moral values?

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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Antonio, A. C., (2014). “Intangible Causes of Deforestation”.  Retrieved on January 22, 2016 from

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