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Irreverence- The Key to Understanding Moral Boundaries

Updated on June 28, 2013
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Irreverence- the Key to Understanding Moral Boundaries

By Tony DeLorger © 2010

Irreverence is today the catalyst for determining the moral boundaries of our society. Satire in all its forms has always been the darker side of irreverence, and in a public forum, the means by which people can redefine their own moral compass, accepting or declining.

Whatever your view, irreverence has a place in our ever changing society. What was once taboo can become commonplace in time, after the forerunners of change have taken their stand. What is first irreverent is either rejected and considered bad taste, or with repeated use becomes acceptable and eventually commonplace. Consider the use of the word ‘fuck’. When I was a child I would have been punished severely for using this word. Now, forty years later, the word in a part of colloquial language and used frequently.

In living memory, the moral status of film nudity, sex scenes, violence, the use of expletives in film, television and in common language has transformed society. Whether this change is a positive one is open to interpretation. Moral boundaries are normally set by parents for their children. How they behave, respond to people and life in general imprints on their children, leaving a lasting affect.

One of today’s social problems is that parents are no longer there long enough in the home to establish a solid moral compass by example. Many parents work far too hard supporting their financial responsibilities and far less on supporting their children’s upbringing. This leaves vulnerable teenagers trying to find the limits of their own morality by acting out with their own irreverence. Considering what is now acceptable about sex, drugs and antisocial behaviour it is no wonder so many teenagers are lost and without a purposeful direction.

I believe that words need only be words. It is the intent that is important. Most language has a place, but discerning the appropriateness is all important. That understanding is about respect, for us and those around us. Again these are ideas that we pass on to our children and that we hope will be adopted.

I have always enjoyed black comedy and satirical films. Pushing the boundaries does make us question the status quo and I think that is a good thing. Whether we take on these new ideas is up to us, but at least we look at the way things are and decide if they should change. However, blindly accepting life and the expression of it based on someone else’s terms is fruitless. So we should always review our own understanding of morality and live accordingly.

And remember our teenager’s irreverence is simply them testing and setting boundaries for their own sense of morality. The more input we have as parents, the easier it will be for our children. Our society is continuously changing and not all changes are good. We must learn to be tolerant, but also understand the need for irreverent behaviour and suitable role models.


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