On the election of Trump and what it says about our ethical values

Now that I’ve had time to process the information, here’s a thought.

What scares me the most in the election of Trump is that the majority of American citizens are openly praising unethical behaviours. Each of us is morally responsible for our behaviour and for the set of values we choose to base it upon. Of all of the things we do, some are worthy of praise and some are worthy of blame. Normally, we praise behaviours based upon positive values, and blame those based upon negative values. Normally, the values that are praised are love, trust, respect, and acceptance.

But the system has been inverted. The values that are being praised right now, by electing Trump as a president, are hate, manipulation, selfishness, and racism. You can argue all you want that Trump’s words are not why he’s been elected, that his policies are. Nevertheless, as a supposedly rational and free agent, he is morally responsible for his words, and for the values he conveys by publicly saying them. By voting for him, people are not only voting for policies, they are also choosing their ethics, and showing the values they praise.

Praise or blame are tools for educating the youth. The youth choose their own set of personal values depending on how they experience the worth of values. By voting for Trump, people are sending a message to the youth that his values are not blameable, that they are worthy of praise. They’re saying, “Go on, youth of America, you can despise women, Blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, the LGBT community and everyone who is not a white man. Go on, youth of America, it’s ok to be selfish, it’s ok to be hateful. You see, it’s so ok that a person with these values has become the president of the most influential country of the world”- They’re saying, “it’s ok to publicly speak of grabbing pussies, it’s ok to think that Blacks are lazy, it’s ok to build walls”. More than saying it’s ok, they’re saying it’s valuable, and worth of praise. Is it really how we want to influence the youth?

I’ve read a really interesting post by Alex Ebert, who wrote: “Many of you are frightened. Overwhelmed. Tripping on “them”. I write this to remind you that Trump and his supporters are not ethical outliers. This is not something that you are clean of. You cannot stand aghast in horror at the movie screen- because it is not a screen- it is a mirror. Perhaps it is our duty to smash it.” (link to his Instagram post)

This inversion of the worth of values is really, deeply disturbing, but it is not only “theirs”. It’s ours. Including you and me. We should ALL reflect on what we want our values to embody. Now is the time to wake up, and to take ethical responsibility: Do we really want to praise hate, manipulation, selfishness, and racism? Or is there still a hint of love, trust, respect, and acceptance within us? If there is, now is time to act upon it, and to smash the mirror.

With love,

The Dilettante

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