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Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture

Last update - Thursday, July 9, 2009, 12:09 By Charles Laffiteau

I believe that inherent in all of us, there is a basic sense of right and wrong. Granted, there may be a few exceptions, such as sociopaths and psychopaths who are seemingly devoid of any sense of guilt for their actions, but for the most part we know that we should treat other people in society the same way that we would wish people to treat us.

So why is it that so many ‘advanced’ societies around the world insist on incorporating various different religious moral codes into their laws? I believe they do so because many religious leaders these societies are afraid that they will lose their power and influence if their societies don’t reflect their particular religious values. Indeed, they seek to reinforce their positions by ensuring that the society’s law reflect their own religious moral values.
Most religious moral codes of right and wrong that I am familiar with emphasise a belief in God and treating others with respect. But many so-called spiritual leaders go to almost any lengths to impress upon their followers the superiority of their own particular religious beliefs. In doing this, they convince their followers to disregard any laws or beliefs that conflict with their own, since they are obviously inferior or lacking in some respect. While I believe in God and am a practicing Catholic, I also happen to believe that God gave us brains and the ability to think for ourselves for a reason. My experiences in life have been such that I simply don’t believe in moral absolutes.
During the course of our lives, most of us will confront some tough moral questions from time to time. Maybe we will make the right decisions sometimes, and the wrong decisions at others. But in the end we will also have to live with the consequences of those decisions, be they right or wrong.
I have no argument with those who use a particular set of religious or moral codes to guide them in addressing these tough questions, so long as they don’t judge others as wrong when we disagree.

This issue of moral conduct also provides me with a nice segue into another topic of great importance today – climate change due to man made global warming. While there are still some people of stature and influence who question whether or not climate change is actually occurring, there is nevertheless a large body of scientific evidence which says global warming is a reality we must come to grips with.
As a result, I think it is exceedingly irresponsible for nay-saying politicians and their supporters to continue to resist any changes in our lifestyles to address this concern. It is people like this who have up till now prevented the world’s biggest energy waster, the United States, from taking concrete steps to address global warming. (Thankfully we took a step in the right direction on 26 June, when the US House of Representatives finally passed a comprehensive bill dealing with climate change.)
But the bigger problem I have is with the average person in the US and the rest of the world who continues to dispute the evidence that industrial and economic development, fuelled by energy from the burning of fossil fuels, is causing climate change and harm to the global environment. What do they plan to tell their children and grandchildren who will inherit a world that will have been changed for the worse? That they were more concerned about preserving their own energy-intensive lifestyles than trying to address the problem when they still had time? 
Charles Laffiteau is a lifelong US Republican from Dallas, Texas who is currently pursuing a PhD in International Relations at DCU with a focus on environmental policy

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