On April 14, Lucy Dunn attended the Orange Catholic Foundation’s Conference on Business & Ethics featuring Dennis Prager, syndicated talk show host and student of ethics. One of his strongest themes was “Truth is the most important virtue. Lies are the mother modern evil.” More important than compassion and love, he said. Ethical leadership in a secular society begins at the top. One story that intrigued his audience was asking, “Would you rather your child lie or smoke cigarettes?”
This ensued a fascinating discussion on how society now blurs what is right and wrong. Lying is a character issue: it is wrong to lie, he said. Smoking is a health issue: it is neither right nor wrong. There are, for example, good, saintly people who smoke-they just might not be healthy, but it doesn’t make them or what they do “bad” or “wrong” yet society now labels smoking as such. He also shared that the American experiment and limited government theories are based upon Judeo-Christian principles and values, that humans are born with innate morality reinforced by a religious belief system. Big government results, however, from a secular society: people are innately evil and must be controlled. To be a “God-fearing man or woman” was considered a compliment; individual accountability to God was paramount, and, thus, the state (government) could be small. But when religion fades, said Prager, the state gets stronger and substitutes for God telling us how to behave. He ended with a quote from the Book of Deuteronomy: “Justice, justice shalt thou pursue.” It is the only place in the Bible where the noun is repeated twice for emphasis. He shared that in the Jewish tradition, it is believed that “justice first in the means” and “justice last in the ends”-that justice must be delivered throughout all actions, and thus is emphasized twice.