AMIDST all the attention on the diseases outbreak in Morobe province, an article on the Evangelical Lutheran church’s view on values was by and large, ignored.
The church secretary, Isaac Teo, had stated at last month’s “Pursuing and promoting excellence in education for a healthy, wealthy and united Papua New Guinea” seminar in Port Moresby that values needed to be taught systematically in schools from Grade Three to 12.
The church had been invited by the Education Department to contribute to the Long Term Development Strategic Plan 2010-50.
Mr Teo had said that PNG, as a society, needed guidance in its human character.
“The people, and most profoundly, teenagers, have lost the values and ideals of our ancestors, Christianity and the Constitution.”
He had defined values as the standards of behaviour that contribute towards a secure life and the continuity of the communities.
“The values keep stability and, therewith, harmony in the communities,” he said.
“The church wishes to see that the values of love, respect, humility, patience, honesty, transparency, and morality become common values.”
More than 1,200 years ago, a warrior king set a precedent.
King Alfred wasn’t called King Alfred the Great for nothing. He was a great warrior and a wise ruler. Around 886 AD, he attempted to blend the Mosaic code with Christian principles and old Germanic customs in his Book of Laws or Dooms.
He inverted the Golden Rule. Instead of “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you”, he adopted the less ambitious principle, “What ye will that other men should not do to you, that do ye not to other men”.
He appended the comment, “By bearing this precept in mind a judge can do justice to all men; he needs no other law-books. Let him think of himself as the plaintiff, and consider what judgment would satisfy him.”
The Laws of Alfred, continually amplified by his successors, grew into that body of customary law administered by the shire and a hundred courts which, under the name of Laws of St Edward the Confessor (his elder brother), the Norman kings undertook to respect, and out of which, with much manipulation by feudal lawyers, the Common Law was founded.
So if one of the most democratically recognised laws was borne out of principles for society and individuals to behave, then perhaps we should study it as a precedent case.
We already have our laws, and as in Alfred’s time, it is at times being manipulated by the legislature with even more new ones.
But going back to its roots, we need to look at three codes: The English Common Law which we have adopted and adapted, The Christian principles and laws of The Bible, and our customary laws and practices.
Papua New Guinea is at a crossroads and needs to take action now. Where cultural values clash with Christian principles, the Golden Rule should come into play; Where Christian principles clash with the Common Law principles, then the Golden Rule should prevail. And to complete the circle, where Common Law values clash with Cultural values, the Golden Rule should apply.
In all these clashes of values, the Golden Rule will stand for justice and fairness in the eyes of God.
As much as possible, the Golden Rule should take precedence over all others.
Goethe, that great German philosopher, took the Golden Rule further. He said: Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is, treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.
“Our children need to be taught the values in a formal socialisation process, which is education, to recognise that life is valuable and it should be taken care of, protected and nurtured by everyone,” Mr Teo said.
“The consequences of losing values are far reaching. When students give too much importance to themselves and their feelings, they grow inattentive to God’s presence, God’s providence and God’s will.
“They let mere instincts for self and towards others increasingly motivate themselves. They act against the better judgment of conscience and sound advice and begin thinking in isolation from others, following feeling and imagination instead of reason.
“They neglect the control and care of their bodies and take to drugs and alcohol and even keep poor hygiene.”Values certainly have far reaching effects.