Our Moral Ecology

“The problem of our moral ecology is that we have thought exclusively in terms of two domains: the state as an instrument of legislation and control and the individual as the bearer of otherwise unlimited choices. But morality can no longer be predicated of the state, for we have become too diverse to allow a single morality to be legislated. Nor can it be located in the individual, for morality cannot be private in this way. We have neglected the third domain: that of community. But it is precisely as the member of a community that I learn a moral language, a vision and its way of life. I become articulate by acquiring a set of meanings not of my own invention, but part of a common heritage. I become connected to others through bonds of loyalty and obligation that are covenantal rather than contractual. And I become connected too, to the community’s past and future, so that I can understand my life as a chapter in a larger narrative. That is what Jews, Christians and others do when they grow up within a religious tradition, and what Aristotle believed education was: induction into a community.”

The Persistence of Faith, p. 45