topic: American History- Winthrop, Hutchinson
In Webster’s dictionary, morality is defined as “principles
of right and wrong in conduct; ethics.” The principles of
morality have countless times evolved over the ages. In earlier
times, death was an easy penalty for many crimes. These crimes
today are considered minor and are penalized with a slap on the
hand. Is this considered wrong? Who is the correct authority to
consult on what is right or wrong? In today’s society, two major
factors concern how the way members of society act and behave.
The first is our national government.
Members of our government in positions of authority decide
everything in our lives in the form of laws which determine our
behavior. One of the most important documents written by our
government is the Declaration of Independence. The monarchy was
taking away power from the colonists and putting more demands on.
In return, the colonists declared their freedom from their
tyrant. In this document, it states, “All men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable
rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.” The great men who wrote this down had a strong sense
of morals. They believed that men were given rights by God that
no one could take away. This is essential to the issue of
morality because it determines the rights- that are agreed upon
all- are wrong.
This brings us to religion. Religion is a major contributor
to how we think and act because it mirrors our beliefs in what we
hold as right or wrong. An example of this is the native tribes
of africa and South America where a number of tribes practice
cannibalism. While this is considered a sin in most christian
religions, the tribes have evolved into cannibalism as a way to
survive in life and have no objections to their eating habits.
The problem arises when the line between government and religion
is crossed. While religion does not have to power to punish one
physically, but rather soulfully of one has sinned. The
government has the power to sentence punishment, yet should have
no power concerning God.
Many different religions have evolved all over the world and
in the process, have people have been prosecuted in their faith.
The first settlers in the new world came here to avoid
prosecution from the powerful church/government of that time.
Specifically, the Church of England headed by the king. Puritan
leaders led their followers to a place where they could express
their religion with no fear of other faiths. One such leader was
John Winthrop was a powerful Puritan governor in the colony
of Massachusetts Bay. He believed that this was a calling from
God for him to lead the new religious experiment-a covenant with
God to built a model for mankind. “We shall be a city upon the
hill.” declared Winthrop. As governor Winthrop held considerable
power. He distrusted the commoners and thought democracy was the
“meanest and worst” forms of government. Anyone who brought
trouble or had indifferent thought were severely punished to
“save their soul.” As one of his extensions of his powers he
banished Roger Williams, a popular Salem minister with radical
ideas and an unrestrained tongue, and Mistress Anne Hutchinson, A
strong willed women who challenged the authority of the clergy by
stating the truly saved need not bother to obey the laws of God
Several problems arise throughout this banishment. I am
for a democratic society in which one can express his or her
thoughts without the fear of prosecution. They did not have the
luxury of this. The need for the expressment of ideas is
essential for a growing environment. If no growth is made, then
expansion of the community is halted to a standstill. The limit
of new idea’s must have a point, though. In recent news, the
Unabomber has issued a ultimanium with his manuscript. In the
past, such a request would have been rediculous. In his
manuscript he expresses his view on the evils of technology.
While a citizen is entitled to free speech and press, threatening
murder is not such an option. There must be limits set. In
colonial times these limitations were set by John Winthrop. Total
obedience was required and disobedience was not tolerated;
therefore, Williams and Hutchinson were banished. I understand
the reasoning behind his motives, but his limits were set too
low. There was no room for free speech and thinking.
Morals today have been declining and declining. As
independant thoughts have now been tolerated, so have thoughts
against basic humane rights. More today than any other period
murders and rapists are being convicted and released from jail.
Attendance at churches pail considerably from the height of it’s
popularity. The people have better things to do and church is
just not the thing to do these days. The government is a mess of
bureaucracy and misuse of power. In two words-Bob Packwood. The
national deficit is at trillions and shows no signs of
improvement. Money is spent in needless ways with lobbyists
bribing officials for personal causes that have no implications
with the common people. The cause of representing the common
people is practically non-existent. These are just some of the
examples of how the morals in today’s society have declined in
the cause of “personal rights.”