Values Education without Religion?

Manila Bulletin, December 23, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Values Education without Religion?


Byline: Bernardo M Villegas

IT may be an oxymoron but a new book published in London criticizes Western Europe and United States for being purveyors of "decadent virtues.aa Entitled Decadence: The Passing of Personal Virtue and Its Replacement by Political and Psychological Slogans, the collection of articles by British authors contrasts the "oldaa virtues such as prudence, love, and courage with the "new virtuesaa centered on environment caring, therapy, and being critical.

Since we Filipinos claim to be among the most westernized in Asia, we should consider the real dangers of being influenced by the "new virtuesaa sloganeering of some Western authors of best-selling books. In one of the articles, as Zenit International reported in its October 22, 2005 issue, Peter Mullen, rector of the Anglican church of St. Michaelas in London, criticizes the self-centeredness of the "new spirituality.aa According to him, the old religious idea of acting virtuously for its own sake, or for Godas sake, has been replaced by the psychotherapuetic notion of virtue for our own well-being.

Self-respect has been replaced by self-esteem. Selfrespect used to come from the peace of trying to live a virtuous life and having a clear conscience. Now it means just feeling good about ourselves and lacks any moral content.

Traditional religions told their followers that we are fallen and in need of spiritual help, and explained the realities of sin and forgiveness. The new gospel of self-realization, in contrast, denies any personal deficiencies and sells a series of techniques that will enable us to realize our potential. In the process, the concepts of right and wrong fall by the wayside.

In the values education or formation programs we have in our schools and work places, there is no substitute for a clear understanding of the true nature of human virtues.

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