Morality- Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times - August 25th
by Jonathan Sacks
Can We Reason Together - Part III
Chapter 19– Why Morality?
Welcome everyone to the United Methodist Men’s Book Study –
How did we do with last meeting’s challenge:
How do we help the people around us?
Listen to their story.
Share your story,
Stretch out your hand to those in need, and turn strangers into friends.
Recap from – Meaning
How do you measure YOUR ‘meaning’?
Do you feel that your life has meaning?
Do you sometimes struggle to find motivation?
If we are devoted only to our own happiness, you fail to realize that things other than yourself have
Do we hear the music of God’s creation, or do you hear silence in your mind?
When we are challenged in the face of death, pride, fear, embarrassment and failure fall away, leaving us with only what it truly important... - Steve Jobs
Life is a story.
What does your story tell about how you responded to other people and the suffering in the world
today. Great lives respond to the reality of other people.
Chapter 19 - Why Morality?
Why is morality important to our own dignity, and the value we see in ourselves?
Life requires both competition and cooperation
(de Tocqueville’s and Darwin’s observations).
- Morality is the domain of Cooperation - Working for the common good is altruistic in nature.
-Competition drives survival, innovation and evolution.
How do we balance these opposing instincts and ideals?
Competition assures the survival of the ONE
Cooperation assures the survival of the MANY
Cooperation is required for the advancement into a civilization, and the ultimate survival of
What is the real power of the Church ? - de Tocqueville
The real power of the church is precisely because of the separation of Church and State. This
allowed the Church to become the great independent UNIFYING FORCE of the American
In America, our constitution did not cede all power to the government, as in other countries. It
reserved power for the individual, and to social groups to identify and meet challenges and
These very groups or ‘Associations’ are formulated to give aid, or sacrifice of themselves for the
These associations of individuals became the Civil Society that sets us apart from the government, and provides the glue that holds a civil and moral society together.
"When people give all power to the state, society falls to creeping tyranny."
- Jonathan Sacks
“In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in
the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People.”
― Eugene Victor Debs
We begin our public affection in our families… As long as Family is kept alive the forces
opposing oppression are never alone.
Morality begins with Kin.
What is ‘Reciprocal Altruism’?
Without trust in our fellow person, we all fail.
If we show trust first, it will eventually be returned to us.
“Do unto others as they would do unto You.”
The Creation of Religion
Early religions created small moral communities, where people developed trust and common
Later developments introduced the ‘Divine Will’ as a check on those who would upset the order
of the community.
Rituals reinforce the learned habits and rules of the community/society. These set the roles and
rules and codes of conduct for the community/society.
The State vs Societies
States function on the basis of power
Societies are moral Communities with a shared vision.
The Greatest Threat to our democracy…
Where people living apart become strangers to the fate of all of the rest. The individualist is
close to them, but does not see them, he does not feel them, and he exists only in and for
The “I” prevails over the “WE”
How do we invest in the society of WE?
How do we ensure Cooperation, not self centered confrontation?
How do we ensure that we do not cede our power and responsibility to the State?
How do we link with other citizens with the bond of collective responsibility?
Next Week – Part 4, Chapter