1 Moral authority refers to the aspect of being esteemed for having good character and awareness, particularly as a source of direction or a model of appropriate behavior. A moral authority is someone who upholds high moral values, and deemed fit to give counsel regarding moral and ethical conduct. One such person is Mohandas K. Gandhi, who chose to use non- violent measures to fight against discrimination, after facing oppression by the racial policies that he came across while he was in South Africa. He chose to lead by example, committed to non-violence. A scenario of his leadership was when he took his supporters to the sea and prepared salt, an act that the British Colonialists considered illegal.
Gandhi’s non- violent rebellion motivated Indian citizens and helped them gain their independence from the British. Eli, a priest in the Old Testament in the bible, lacked moral authority because he knew of his son’s sin, but did not remove him from the priestly office. He was indifferent towards God, and his lack of spirituality pushed him and the people of Israel further from God. As a leader, he was not a good example. Therefore, he could not influence people in a positive way.
Moral authority is important as it enables the current and future generations to lead as good leaders did. It also boosts confidence and enables people to accomplish difficult quests meant to serve a good purpose to the society. We look up to the many global moral authorities such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, among others, and emulate their leadership styles which mold our way of thinking. Losing one’s morals has negative effects on generations. Having no purpose as a leader will pose a negative attitude to your followers and the world will be in chaos.
2 Buddhism and Hinduism are religions that originated from the same region, India, and share some similarities, as well as differences. Buddhists centered their practices and principles on teachings endorsed by a teacher of religion; Siddhartha Gautama, whom they referred to as the Buddha, to mean “the awakened one”. Hinduism, on the other hand, is a collection of diverse logical ideologies and practice “daily morality” based on concepts of karma, dharma and communal customs. It does not center its practices on an inflexible particular set of beliefs.
These two religions do have a number of similarities, and the main one is that they originate from the same area. Another similarity is that their teachings emphasize on establishment of peace and avoidance of violent actions to all creatures. They uphold and emphasize on the importance of reading scriptures and they both believe in a number of spiritual practices that include meditation. Both religions trust in the concept of karma, where an individual’s action is accountable for the cycle of fate; and dharma, which describes the behaviors necessary for conservation of the natural order of things. Both religions view desire as the major reason for suffering.
Whereas Hinduism believes in the existence of one supreme God and trinity, Buddhists do not acknowledge that and instead put their faith in the teachings of the Buddha. Hindus accept all kinds of beliefs and do away with distinct religions, which spell out division. On the other hand, Buddhists show commitment to their religion by taking “refuge in the triple gem”. Another distinction is that the Buddhists believe in the concept of enlightened existence, whereas the Hindus do not. Both religions uphold morality, and some of the principles I have applied in my decision making include being truthful, avoiding corrupt agendas, and being perseverant in all my activities.
3 In the African Traditional Religion there exists some features that define its structure, despite the differences in ideologies, system of beliefs and religious norms among the many tribes. These features include the belief in God, Divinities, spirits as well as ancestors. They also practice magic, charm and medicine. Morality in the African tradition mainly centers on the promotion of life, which has a high value because they consider it the greatest gift from God. It is, therefore, the people’s obligation to take care of it and develop it in a given community. For the people to achieve it, they have to live in harmony and avoid all evils that may endanger lives.
The reason that Africans respect and uphold this obligation is because they understand that there will be consequences for lawbreakers from God. For the people living in the postmodern American society, this principle is applicable since they derive their moral ethics on law; which they consider supreme, and the Judeo-Christian influence. The law comprises of the U.S. constitution, Supreme Court Declarations as well as Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is significant in the American law and government. With the law to guide them, Americans maintain peace and harmony because they know that they are subject to punishment if they go against the rules.
Since the African communities strongly believe in harmony and promotion of life, they maintain a strong sense of justice. A person who has experienced injustice often makes a direct petition to God. Similarly, in Postmodern America, a victim of injustice files a lawsuit that analyzes the situation and makes a verdict. That is to mean that, both cultures believe in the value of life and punishment for the unjust.
4 The Abrahamic religions originated from Abraham’s descendants, who were monotheist prophets; meaning that they believed in the existence of one supreme God. They include the Jews, Christians and the Muslims. Their faith bases itself on the belief that God made a pact with Abraham to worship Him and teach his offspring the practice of worship. As a reward, God would preserve, protect and multiply his children. These three religions hold that God spoke to mankind over a period, through His servants, in the form of revelations. All that He said to men lies in the sacred books: the Bible, Torah and Quran.
Their moral and ethical values revolve around the Ten Commandments that got revealed to Moses by God. They exist in all Holy Scriptures of the three religions and are similar, with the exception of the Sabbath day in the Quran. Christianity derived moral codes from the beatitudes, which emphasized on righteousness, and the teachings of Jesus who condemned adultery and divorce. The Jews based their moral codes on the Levitical code, where the condemnation of adultery and incest is high. Moral codes from the Quran included respect for parents and condemned abortion; where it says that children should not get killed because of poverty, for God will provide.
The Quran also mentions the need to uphold decency, where both men and women require discretion and should not expose their private parts, and women should hide their beauty. It also says that there should be mutual respect for both men and women as they hold similar rights. From the Abrahamic religions, we learnt various morals regarding marriage; that it is a sacred institution that should receive respect. In the family setting, respect for parents is paramount, and children receive a lot of appreciation. With regards to gender relations, there should be mutual respect among men and women.
5 The Bill of Rights in America initially protected the interests of white people, excluding African-Americans, American Indians, as well as women. It did promote discrimination and racism. However, after the first amendment, all American citizens attained the right to file appeals to the government for compensation regarding their complaints. The second amendment was more favorable as it promoted freedom. It provided that human beings got created equally and that their creator gave them absolute rights such as life, independence and pursuit of happiness.
The Civil Rights Movement existed in the mid-20th century and spearheaded by the African-American clerics and leaders in the community; among them Martin Luther King Jr. Their reason for creating the movement was to end oppression and segregation that took place in America. He received jail time for holding a demonstration that disregarded racism, despite the provisions of the amended Bill of Rights. That made him contest the government’s moral thought when he mentioned, in his letter that the law may be fair in writing but unfair in its applicability. His protests led to the eventual abolition of all types of discrimination and even influenced several movements in pursuit of justice and freedom of expression.
In today’s America, the law is more defined, and people have democratic rights, which mean oppression is not common. The justice system, compared to the one that existed 45 years, ago is much fair and advanced, and this means that America maintains its moral code. The lesson from the Civil Rights Movement, is the importance for people to know and understand the law that governs them, and the rights that they hold. It is also important to know the sources of moral thought of America, as this will be a guide when seeking justice.