Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Ethics or the lack of it thereof

Ever since Martin Luther, (1483-1546) the Catholic priest from Germany, nailed his ‘95 theses of contentions’ (an ensemble of critiques on the Catholicism of the day) to the Wittenberg’s church door, ethics was elevated as one of the main tenets of established (doctrinaire) religions, at least within the domain of Christendom. Amongst Luther’s critiques, the Catholic Church’s ‘sale of indulgence’ stood out as the one that was absolutely indefensible. The ‘sale of indulgence’ was a marketing gimmick deployed by the power/status hungry leadership of the Vatican. This cheap ploy was enacted to finance the construction of the St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, a monumental edifice that took 120 years in the making!
‘The sale of indulgence’ was a payment advanced to the Catholic Church for sins/indulgence that will be committed at one’s convenience at a later date! Naturally this idea favored the rich and soon funds flowed like the river Tiber on whose bank the basilica was built! As if this is not enough blasphemy for the Church, the reigning popes of Luther’s days were openly practicing sodomy!
‘Pope Paul II (1464–1471) is popularly alleged to have died of a heart attack while in action, a sexual act that is and with a page to boot! Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484) was alleged to have awarded gifts to court favorites in return for sexual favors. Pope Leo X (1513–1521) was widely thought to have had many active lovers.’ All lovers mentioned above were of the male sex! Ultimately the whole decadence of the Catholic leadership became intolerable, particularly in North Europe where protracted disputes (Church of England) with the Catholic Church were an ongoing phenomenon. Through time, the disputes deepened and protest movements against the catholic leadership and its shortsighted teachings took off in earnest and gave rise to what ultimately became ‘Protestantism!’In successive centuries, Protestantism asserted itself and ended up as a formidable counter weight to the archaic but still powerful reign of the Vatican!
At about this time, the new continent of the Americas opened up for all and sundry. For the North European heretics this was godsend and they made America a hotbed for all sorts of religious reformist movements: Quakers, Mennonites, Baptists, Adventists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Pentecostal, Mormons, etc. Today the US census lists one catholic, 60 orthodox and a whopping 6,161 protestant denominations! As a result of these new religious dispositions, which were unencumbered by the rituals & fetishes of the old continent, there arose new ethical standards that facilitated the economic/social workings of the new society. It was called, appropriately, the ‘Protestant ethics’, to distinguish it from the bankrupt ethics of the Catholicism of the day! North America with its abundant resources also encouraged a brand of capitalism that was more aggressive than any seen in the continents of old. The new religion coupled with a new economic dynamics in the vast new world, all conspired in shaping a more wholesome ethics that went by the name: the ‘Protestant Work Ethics!’ It was the combination of these newies that propelled the USA to the forefront of commerce, science and engineering. But that was then!
Whenever there is a conspicuous absence of strong ethical standards in any organized society, it is what we glibly call ‘gangsterism’ that takes over people’s life! These days even countries like the USA, uphold severely degenerated ethical standards, very much unlike their valued traditions. In the absence of higher ‘ethics’; such as those derived from humanism, not doctrinaire religions, (Christianity vs. Islam) or from environmentalism, (respect for nature) not economism (blind development), etc; it is only formal laws and regulations derived from the principles of a secular state that are holding collective society together! People don’t steal, not because they think it is unethical, but only because they fear they will end up in prison if caught. On the other hand, there are gangsters that don’t get caught at all, like the criminal CEOs of Banks, corporations, etc, because they have caught or captured the vital organs of the state already! The whole world has now moved decisively to a more valueless existence where even traditional ethics has no visible impact in the workings of society, be it at the level of the family, market or state! In other words, the whole world seems to be under the thumbs of accomplished ‘gangsters’ who are by and large bona fide psychopaths and sociopaths!
‘Gangsterism’ is now the unstated ethics of our time and encompasses, amongst other things; militarism/ramboism, monetarism/banksterism, newspeak/presstitution, moneyed politics/lobbyism, etc, in the powerful states and all rounded incompetence/buffoonism, corruption/nepotism, coercion/goonism, etc, in places like Africa! To some extent these tendencies are blessed by the various denominations of global Christendom; Protestantism, Catholicism and the Orthodox faith! See Gordon’s commentary next column. The devout may take heart in knowing their current religious leaders (most likely) won’t practice sodomy in the open as those popes of yesteryears. As for us, we believe it is time for higher forms of ‘ethics’, not derived from the old metaphysical alienation of Homo sapiens, (religion) to make their debut to our post-modern existence!
We recall a commentary by a news critic from a bygone era, when the press was not entirely in the business of presstitution. “Our rigid formulae of so-called objectivity … have given the lie the same prominence and impact that truth is given; they have elevated the influence of fools to that of wise men; the ignorant to the level of the learned; the evil to the level of the good.” Eric Sevaried. Good Day!