Morality in America
Conference of Interfaith Leaders- Held at the Islamic House of Wisdom
by Dr. Tallal Alie Turfe
December 10, 2013
Martin Luther King said, “If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.” During the last half century, moral integrity in America has been on a constant decline. Who is to blame for this moral decadence in American society? Blame can be directed toward parents, teachers, and clerics who need to go beyond teaching morality to actually living morality. It takes initiative, commitment, and a willingness to go against the trend to bring our children back to what is morally and religiously right. Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all faced with the challenge to restore our God-given rights of moral beliefs and faith to our children and communities. Moral values need to be taught and practiced very early in life.
America needs a transformation. It needs to get back to the basic principles that made our country great. Liberty and justice, based on the moral and ethical demands of faith, were the hallmarks of what our Founding Fathers so arduously worked for and believed in. Religious freedom for all citizens was mandated, as they knew that morality springs from religious faith.
We have a moral and spiritual crisis in America that has been brewing for some time. It is a crisis of character that has produced a crisis of behavior. It is a poverty of values caused by a poverty of faith. We remove all value judgments from society and then wonder why we have a generation that is morally confused. Our society has continually dismissed the relevance of religion and, as a consequence, has diminished its importance. If religion is ignored or banned, then its components, such as the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, are likewise made irrelevant. The end result is that if there is no God, then anything is permissible.
Today, the atmosphere in America is reeking with immorality, and we are suffering from moral decay and cultural decadence. The trend of immorality will only get worse. How will future generations behave in a climate of uninhibited sex, deviation from biblical scriptures, and complacency? There is no question that America can outdo any nation when it comes to technology, architecture, agriculture, drilling for oil, and increasing the speed of travel. But when it comes to morality, we have a hard time staying above water, as we are sinking and sinking fast.
To recapture the moral qualities that God has given us, we from the interfaith community must work together in cooperation. We need to revive the morality in our communities. We need to discuss ways to restore our nation back to its moral greatness. That is going to take a great deal of time and effort, but it has to be done for the sake of our nation, our children, and the future of America. As interfaith leaders, the power that guides us should result in restoring our moral consciousness. As Martin Luther King said, “I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”
To work together in restoring morality, we must be united. While we need to deal with the unavoidable conflict between our desire for unity and our commitment to truth, we need to reflect on those things that bring about unity. Unity is not something we invent; it is God’s gift. Let our efforts be the result of an earnest desire and willingness to succeed, as we celebrate our differences as windows of opportunities. Let us uproot ignorance with knowledge, as we learn to cooperate with one another. As God has already given us that passion for unity, we must move forward to fulfill His command. Our pledge to unity must begin within ourselves, within our families, within our communities, and with each other. With an open mind and open heart, we can have effective interfaith dialogue with each other. As we engage in dialogue, let us seek to understand before we seek to be understood.
As Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were established by Divine inspiration, their followers are obligated to be tolerant, empathetic, and peaceful. Toward this end, they must acknowledge that they are partners and collaborate with each other through a coordinated effort.
Today, there is great demand for eyes that see, ears that hear, minds that think, and hearts that feel. As religious leaders and scholars, we can no longer be too content in our own respectability, or too complex and too difficult to please because of our own self-importance. As we meet in interfaith dialogue, we must not surrender to social pressure. Leaders of vision, will, and courage must stand against the multitude, follow their own lights, and withstand the ridicule visited upon them. Leaders must not be indifferent to the moral darkness and misery that feeds on the poor and innocent in each of our faith traditions. Leaders must take an active part in the quest for tolerance and cooperation, not just to get something out of it but, more importantly, to put something into it. Leaders must be nurtured in the ideals of true brotherhood, must be trained to estimate rightly the trend of events, and must be animated with the noble purpose of embracing brotherhood for the sake of brotherhood.
Let us be guided by the wisdom of Martin Luther King when he said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The challenge for us is to continue to work together – Jews, Christians, and Muslims – hand-to-hand, heart to heart, united in brotherhood and solidarity.
To view Photo Highlights of this occasion, click HERE!