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Darko Nei, 2911

Ethical Shortcomings of Modern Society


People, being the most reasonable beings on planet Earth, have always sought to regulate their mutual relations. This has been achieved by establishing certain traditions, religious norms, and, in a more modern history, by establishing laws. By using various methods to establish these relationships, people have always wanted to firmly establish the boundary between good and evil, the desired and undesired, acceptable and unacceptable, moral and immoral, but we have never been entirely successful in terms of such an endeavor. Today, there are no universal rules of conduct, although ethics, as a science that studies morality, strives for the solution of this problem. What is the essence of the concepts of morality and ethics and what is their influence on creating relationships between people? There are basically two theories when it comes to the question of the creation of morality. According to the first one, morality found its basis in the customs that prevailed among people and which reflect such awareness, the will or the inner motives of what should be and how, and what should not be done in a society. According to another concept, the origin of morality can be found in religion. In the initial stage of the development of human society the human way of thinking had a religious character and it was covered in mystery. This is why man, in the early stages of development of human society, perceived moral norms as a message of their deceased ancestors, and evaluated their behavior as good or bad depending on the will of supernatural powers, or ''God's will. So people had to take care of their behavior for the fear of ''God's punishment'' because ''God sees, hears and knows it all''. The development of philosophy as the mother of all science meant the creation of morality as a social phenomenon and ethics as the science of morality. The term was first introduced by Cicero who translated Aristotle's phrase ''etikos'', which means to be good, by using the word ''moralis'' derived from the Latin word ''mos-moris`` meaning custom. From what was said so far, it may be noted that the concepts of morality and ethics are overlapping, and for this reason it is needed to briefly explain the meaning of the two. Morality is usually defined as ''a form of human practice, a form of practical and active attitude from man to the world, to other people, and as well as to themselves. It is manifested in the value assessment of human actions and desires which are positively or negatively valued (i.e. unworthy), whereby the former are approved of, while the latter criticized, condemned and finally forbidden.'' As a set of rules of conduct, morality, which is based on the norms of good and evil, determines the evaluation of human actions in terms of what kind of behavior is worthy of a man and what is not. Ethics as the science of morality "is a systematic effort to make a meaningful unit out of our individual, social and moral experience, by determining rules that should govern human behavior, the values worthy of pursuing and character traits that deserve to come to the fore in life." In everyday life concepts of ethics and morality are used for evaluation and assessment of all phenomena, actions, and individuals as good or bad, desirable and undesirable, ethical or unethical, moral and immoral. Whatever we call it, the ethical reasoning is based on the existence

of generally accepted morality, i.e. ethical norms, which are compared with any act or action, and on that basis make moral judgments, whether the observed action or an act is in accordance to moral principles or not. As a starting point for further considerations we will take the position that morality and ethics are presented in "assessing the value of all human behavior, out of which some are approved and another condemned." This is the way how theory explains ethics and morality. But the world we live in cannot be simplified and easily viewed through the prism of good or evil, ethical and unethical. Often the difference between these concepts is difficult to recognize because the disparities among them are very subtle. Supporting this claim is the statement of Pope Benedict XVI, saying that: We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires." Modern times are characterized by a number of ethical shortcomings, which will be discussed in the following. In this respect special attention will be paid to the existing value system in Serbia and its "ethical inadequacy", followed by the impact of military-political factors in the creation of relations in the world in terms of ethics and finally, I will give the clarification of some ethical dilemmas about what to do today so that our future and the future of our children becomes more evident. I will first try to answer the following questions: what reflects the ethical inadequacy in the existing value system in Serbia, how the media influence the creation of values and is there a way in which we can establish a desirable value. The answer to these questions arises as a product of personal perception of reality, in which I am deeply aware that "I observe the world around us through individual value system" and that the opinions and views presented while striving to be objective, however, depend on a particular point of view, or, better yet, on Boulding`s "steel law of perspective". What are the main characteristics of Serbia today from the aspect of ethics? Serbia is now in the overall process of economic, political and cultural transition. Inevitable transition from one social system to another is characterized by large fractures and trauma. What interests us is the fact that the old system of values, on which old ethical principles and relationships between people were based, was destroyed and still a new one has not yet been built. As a result stands today's ethical inadequacy which runs through all aspects of social life and negatively affects the majority of our population. What reflects ethical shortcomings of the value system and the ethical inadequacy in Serbia today? Long-term negative trends in society created a particular disruption in our ''mindset''. The values that were effective once are no more, no one cares for them, because it is an already rooted belief that everything is on sale and can be purchased, which means that the basic measure of a value has exclusively become money or wealth. Our reality is marked by the knowledge that if we have money to buy beauty, health, love, position, work, grades, graduation and other things in life which mean something, we'll look like the characters with whom we identify several times during each day while watching the por favor series.

We are witnessing just another job that we cannot perform if we do not have our ''man'' or we are unable to pay. This is the situation with the doctor, the court, municipality, bank, post office ... Often we hear that those who by nature have to be protectors of the law have a ''deal'' with people on the other side of the law, and if everyone knows how to perform their role properly, they all live pretty well. Everything has its price and is measured in money. Today there is hardly a friendship without interest, even love without interest. For this state of affairs, or "ethical inadequacy" I think the biggest credit goes to the media, especially television. But what is the basis for this claim? Through the ''magic box'' and printed media splendor and grandeur are constantly served, but if we look out the window we see people who dig through the trash bins in order to find something to dress and eat. Coming back to reality is very painful for many, when they realize that reality are not really the aforementioned series, the ''Grand paradigm'' and different Reality shows, or in one word ''pap'' culture, thanks to which everyday problems which are difficult to be solved are being effectively pushed under the rug. Once the reality is understood and accepted by the general public, their defense mechanism would, in retribution, require going to the apathy and depression, and a cure for it would be fruitlessly sought for in alcohol, various tranquilizers, drugs and gambling, and the overall moral decay would just continue with its certain pace. The confirmation that not only ''I'' live like that we look for by applying the achievements of the ''developed world'' by peering publically, in front of the multimillion audience, into other people's destiny and intimacy, so that the personality of a man is gradually being lost for the sake of mass entertainment and the new ''material to talk about'' until the next occasion. While thinking about the impact of media on the creation of the value system in Serbia I cannot avoid the impression that Radio Broadcasting Agency of the Republic of Serbia, which should deal with these issues, has no intentionof interfering inits own work. These are, in my opinion, only some of many ethical shortcomings of today. However, the question of how the shortcomings turn into advantages requires complex thinking and action. In many areas of social life the knowledge that such a situation in our country is unsustainable in the long run has become ripe, and the escape is being sought for in making various codes of ethics''.