I have been thinking and embarked on a research project posed by the question: “Have we experienced a paradigm shift in society from morality to personality?” I really do believe that the question is germane to the discussion and consideration of most everything we humans face and experience in today’s world. If this has happened it has happened in the political, social, relational, economic, spiritual, and political worlds. Are there any examples of it that we can hang our hats on? Is there any evidence that suggests that such a shift has happened? What exactly are we talking about in a ‘paradigm shift from morality to personality’? I probably cannot answer all those questions yet and will not attempt to only identify some of what set me on this journey.
What caused me to ask this question and embrace this thought was my observation in the entertainment, sports, media, and segments of our society the ‘cult-like’ following that Barack Obama has received. That made me question our society on this front. When people begin to adopt a ‘cult-like’ worship and following of a person or ideology they are absolutely unable to see the flaws of the individual or ideology and those kinks in the armor or argument become so inconsequential that they are ignored or dismissed. Mr. Obama has been the beneficiary of that kind of following even when he advanced policies that are diametrically opposite of the belief of most in the Christian Faith, yet many who are followers of Christ follow Mr. Obama and support him unquestioningly. I’ve observed preachers who stand by him even though his political ideology stands as an affront to what they preach and write about. Yet, the ‘morality’ they call for in sermon and print takes a back seat to the ‘personality’ embodied in the president. There can be any number of reasons including race for this phenomenon but it begs the question, “Have we had a paradigm shift from morality to personality?”
Some have undertaken to examine this from the perspective of “Moral Hypocrisy” and “Moral Inconsistency” as an explanation of where we are and the condition of the human heart and thought. They certainly have some valid arguments and we see a tremendous amount of both ‘moral hypocrisy and inconsistency’ in the political world today. Most of us have heard or been told ‘practice what you preach’ and that has been the foundational definition for hypocrisy. Most are put off when anyone ‘says one thing and does another’ or as the old saying, ‘do as I say not as I do’ we view that hypocritical and are correct. Politicians are notorious for that and most dismiss it because we ‘expect’ politicians to be hypocritical when it comes to campaign promises.
There was a time in our society when we not only expected but demanded that political figures, business leaders, and religious leaders be ‘consistent’ in their display of morality and were not swayed by the personality. Today whether it is sports figures, movie stars, entertainers, or political figures we seem to be far less concerned about ‘morality’ than we are about ‘personality.’ Could that be a result of a paradigm shift in our society where ‘morality’ is of a lesser worth today than a charismatic personality that can be worshipped to some degree?
I saw a study (I do not recall who did the study) that was done where a group of individuals were given the option of flipping a coin in order to make a decision upon assigning particular tasks to themselves or an unknown person. It turned out that about half of the participants opted for the coin flip but when the results were tabulated 90% of those who flipped the coin reported that they received favorable tasks for themselves. That was the same percentage as those who arbitrarily made the decision. That is suggestive that those who opted for the coin flip but skewed the results were seeking to ‘appear fair’ but in reality were being hypocritical. That is so true in the political world today that it is alarming. Yet, because it seems that we have made a paradigm shift from morality to personality when the president or some other political figure opts for that ‘apparent fairness’ when fairness is not even part of the equation they receive ‘cult-like’ approval. The personality rises far above the morality and the hypocrisy is totally ignored.
If I am right and we have made a paradigm shift from morality to personality in our society we are in deep trouble as a people, a nation, and a world. As a Christian this is deeply troubling to me because I see it not just in the political but in every facet of society including the Church. I pray to God that I am wrong!
May God be with you and may God bless America again!