In 1993, then New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a report titled, “How we’ve become accustomed to alarming levels of crime and destructive behaviour.” The report coined a phrase that has since become memorable: ‘Defining deviancy down’. Moynihan explained that as deviant behaviour increased, American culture and politics became more tolerant of that destructive behaviour.
I thought of Moynihan when I heard of the proposal to legalise prostitution, made to Nairobi mayor George Aladwa by some shadowy and surreptitious civil society groups. This proposal was simply the latest assault in a co-ordinated war against morals in Kenya. A war that is ultimately funded by some foreign aid agencies, spearheaded by some local NGOs and aimed at the country’s moral culture.
The early part of this war has had several phases. There is the campaign to normalise homosexuality and lesbianism. There is the ongoing effort to liberalise abortion laws and policies through health guidelines and medical code of conduct. There is a maturing effort to weaken family law by allowing easy divorce and statutory polygamy. And the ongoing clamour for acceptance of rampant pornography, marital infidelity and youth promiscuity, mainly through persistent media erosion. It is not an easy time for families in Kenya.
So Kenya is at war, a culture war. A war to define deviancy down, and to uproot the positive moral values of Kenyan society. A war that was foretold in the concerns of Church leaders during the 2010 referendum campaign. There are many Kenyans still in denial about what is happening. To them one must say, wake up and smell the coffee. Or better still, because the coffee beans are burnt and the aroma dissipated, welcome home from Mars!
Nothing typifies the war on morals so much as the inundation contraception campaign. Of course, I find the ‘C-word’ campaign off-putting. Most people called Charles, Christine or Caroline would – at the personal level. But also most lovers of language. So many great C-words out there: Christ for Christians, commitment, compassion, character and courage for students of human nature, and so on. So to make ‘condoms’ the ultimate ‘c-word’ is quite embarrassing.
Beyond linguistics, the condom campaign has other problems. First, the side effect of the campaign is to increase adult and youth promiscuity. Second, it degrades the culture’s value for marital fidelity and the integrity of committed human love. Third, it starts the spiral of moral crisis in society, leading to casual sex, family breakdown, vulnerable children, selfish individuals and an atomised unhealthy society.
An interesting aspect of the ongoing culture war is the utter shamelessness of the purveyors of indecency. The girl who declares on national television that she preys on married men for money. The boy who discloses that he engages in perverted acts with prominent persons. And the talk show host who carries a heated discussion on the merits of ‘threesomes’. These are today’s home-wreckers.
If we are at war, who then is the enemy? Is it the media? Is it the civil society groups funnelling this dirty money? Is it the churches, the schools, our families or even ourselves? Peter Kreeft in his landmark 1998 article, “How to win the culture war”, disagrees. The enemy, he asserts, are forces more primeval and yet more intimate to us. Something that arises from the concupiscence of fallen man.
We are at a turning point in the culture war for the soul of our nation. We are at Dunkirk, on the beaches of 1940 France. Facing total defeat by the rampant German army. If we are to move beyond defeat, and emerge as conquerors on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 France, we must regroup, rearm and re-engage.
That is why the topic of family values is ripe for debate in the coming electoral cycle. Let politicians demonstrate if they have a strategy for pushing back against the increasingly attritional war on morals.
(The author is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya).
From www.lifematters.co.ke with the kind permission of the author