A Civilized Society

Walter Williams maintains that “A civilized society’s first line of defense is not the law, police and courts but customs, traditions, rules of etiquette, and moral values.  These behavioral norms—mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth, and religious teachings—represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experiences and trial and error.” [1]

My question is:  Is this first line of defense a set of beliefs or a set of behaviors?  If it is a set of beliefs, then we can say we believe in a certain moral value but practice just the opposite.  I do not think that was what Williams meant.  The whole purpose of a belief is ultimately to translate it into a concrete action.

The same principle applies to Christianity.  Knowledge of Jesus’ teachings is good but what God ultimately wants is for us to put those teachings into practice.


[1]   Walter Williams, “Failure to pass on American values”, Tulsa Beacon, July 2, 2015, p. 4.

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