In the past, both in the West and the East, religion determined the rules of moral behavior. All followers of a specific religion obey almost identical values. Since the beginning of the modern era, especially in the West, religion has gradually lost its spiritual authority. Today in some advanced western countries people consult clinical psychologists instead of priests to resolve their mental problems. In societies that have not given science absolute power, people face numerous moral and psychic contradictions due to the influence of new value systems. These people are wandering between their ancestral tradition and the new value system, and they feel what sociologists call “anomy.” This bewilderment and disorientation can be observed in all aspects of their life, particularly in the realm of morality.
In the West, people are able to meet their material, and to some extent, their social needs through the use of science and technology. But they realize that these achievements have not been able to relieve their anxieties arising from higher competition, constant changes, and loneliness. Furthermore, they cannot prevent violence or ensure tranquility, friendship, and security—all necessary conditions for self-realization.
The 1789 French Revolution’s ideals—equality, fraternity, and freedom—have not been fully realized in the world. Despite the vertiginous development of science and technology, humanity witnessed two ruinous world wars resulting in millions of deaths. International agreements and treaties, including the establishment of the League of Nations, which was later to be transformed into the United Nations, as well as the ratification of the Human Rights Charter have not succeeded in ending wars. Current ideologies like liberalism, socialism, and other “isms” prevalent in the twentieth century neither brought about worldwide peace and security nor provided stable and reliable internal tranquility for individuals.
Humanity is asking itself how it is possible to replace war, violence, and anxiety with peace and security in social and individual environments.
The ratification by the United Nations General Assembly of the principle proposed by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding “Dialogue among Civilizations“ instead of “Conflict among Civilizations” could be proof that we have begun to ask this question. However, one wonders whether this socio-political guideline can be realized without the moral education of citizens of human societies, be it in the West, East, North, or South.
What has been mentioned thus far proves the real demand for moral education. What remains is to generate a moral attitude that will ensure peace and security in the world and the principles and conditions to succeed in moral education.