I repeat my question: In a secular world, is there a word or concept that serves the same function (and yields the same effect or consequence - a constraint upon behavior)) as the 'sacred' does in a religious world?
I have been following this thread and believe it or not I am with you on this one, Tom! Who'da thunk it!
I was raised Catholic until I was in my early teens, though...so I did get the whole "there are things you just don't do."
Now that I have parted from the church and live a secular lifestyle, I ask myself these same questions. Why should I still hold such values? And the answer is simple....just because it behooves me to do so. I believe it behooves us all to do so.
But people are short sighted...where the church (and even school)used to lead them to think beyond themselves, it no longer does as the church has lost respect and schools only value teaching academics.
Perhaps being respectful towards property and other humans does not come naturally to mankind? Maybe it is a learned response.
I do believe respect for others things can be learned through hard lessons but it is way easier to instill this attitude through study. Just as it is easier to teach kids math when they are young rather than letting them figure it our later in life.
So I am still not convinced 'holding things sacred' is only a religious attitude per se, but that it does come from teaching in whatever form that takes. I think we could get the same effect from teaching kids etiquette in school. That way...even kids with bad parents would be able to understand why there is a need to be kind to one another and how it helps all of society, including themselves. I think many kids lose plenty of opportunities to better themselves simply because they lack social skills. This may lead then to anger towards people who have learned social skills through being fortunate enough to have a good upbringing. This anger could lead to them destroying property.
Recently, I heard a story from one of my friends that demonstrates what I am talking about...Albeit on a very minor scale...
My friend has worked in new home sales for the past 20 years. She has helped many people/friends get started in her line of work and become successful. Her new "protege" (person she helped get a job where she works) has been working in another office down the street. One day Leslie (my friend) asked her "protege" (ron) for a helping hand as she was slammed that day. All she needed him to do was to bring a key to her or go to a certain home and let her customers in so they could take a quick peek. He refused to do this without being compensated in some way. She thought he was joking, as in their line of work they all help each other when they need it. It is good for them and good for business. But he was serious...even got testy when she said," really?"
Later she was talking with his partner about the incident (who happen to be a senior citizen) and his partner said that she had once asked Ron for some printer paper and he refused. He also refused to help her lift bottled water they needed and other such things that she purchased for the office but struggled with because of being weaker due to age.
Leslie was so pissed off that she decide it would be a cold day in hell before she ever helped Ron again. He lost his best advocate at that moment.
Fast forward a few days later and he came to her all humble and said, " I want to apologize for my behavior the other day...it wasn't right. I will be more helpful in the future. May I please borrow some printer paper?"
Being the good Catholic that she is...she immediately forgave him and handed him a huge stack of printer paper.
Human beings need each other. It behooves us all to do kind things for one another. Everyone has something that is sacred to them. If not religion then art...if not art then love. If we fail to realize that basic concept then we are all doomed to lives of vandalism of the things we value, because someone is sure not to value the same. It is a give and take and it begins with a small lesson in etiquette...either by the church or society. Something has got to teach us that you don't have respect if you don't get respect.