The Solution to a Twentieth-Century Moral Crisis

The LRH answer, from the autumn of 1980, was The Way to Happiness. In a preliminary word, he spoke of the moral code as a traditional guideline for social accord. If such traditional covenants no longer seemed wholly relevant to this twentieth century, they had served well enough for the time. Case in point are the Ten Commandments, reflective of a nomadic existence cemented by devotion to one God. Hence, the first Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Likewise, and however seemingly irrelevant today, the prohibition against graven images, the taking of the Lord’s name in vain and a strict observance of the Sabbath all worked to knit a tribal community with intense piety. Then, too, because Mosaic Code is essentially an article of faith, it continued to remain in force so long as faith remained – or to bring the argument full circle, until usurped by a materialistic doctrine and what amounts to a purely biological code: If we need it, take it; if it feels good, do it; and if we feel threatened, then either flee or kill it.

In truly specific and alarming ways, then, LRH declared, "Old social values have been broken. New moral values have not replaced them. The world of cultural dignity today is in a state of disintegration. The ties that held men together as mankind and made them honorable have been sundered by an onslaught of false materialism." He then went on to very correctly point out that, relevant or not, traditional religious influences were fast waning, and specifically referenced a United States Supreme Court decision that effectively banned the teaching of the Ten Commandments. Consequently, he concluded, "People and even little kids in schools have gotten the idea that high moral standards are a thing of the past," which in turn, brought him to the pivotal question: "What if one were to put out a nonreligious moral code? One that appealed to the public. One that would be popular and could be kept. One that would increase the survival potential of the individual amongst his fellows. And one the general public itself would pass on."

The first moral code based wholly upon common sense, The Way to Happiness offers twenty-one precepts for life in what has become a cynical and largely faithless age. The appeal is entirely logical. Each precept marks the edge of a road to better survival and happiness for oneself and one’s fellows. Thus, for example, one is advised to be temperate and abstain from harmful drugs, not on principle, but because that road to happiness cannot be walked unless one is physically able to enjoy life. Likewise, one is cautioned against promiscuity, not arbitrarily, but rather because relationships and families will shatter in the face of infidelity. With the same logic, readers are enjoined to live with truth and bear no false witness, as "There is nothing unhappier than one who tries to live in a chaos of lies." His injunction against the criminal act is also a matter of unarguable reasoning. Those who commit crimes, whether apprehended or not, he writes, "are yet weakened before the might of the state." Then, too, of course, there can be no happiness if one murders or is himself murdered.

There is more, including precepts pertaining to the care of children, honoring one’s parents, safeguarding our environment, supporting those of good will and fulfilling obligations. Additionally included for each precept is a note on application, as in the LRH advice to practice for the sake of gaining competence and encourage others to be industrious. While continuing throughout is that very key and very potent central truth: Survival, and thus our happiness, is inextricably linked to all dynamics and so, "The pebble, dropped in a pool, can make ripples to the furthest shore."

The dissemination of this booklet alone, Ron tells us, can factually change the fabric of this civilization. It can actually usher in, "a new era for human relations." If the statement seems overly optimistic, with fifty million copies now in circulation, it is not. Although cumulative effects are difficult to gauge (for how can one measure tolerance and decency with the same statistical accuracy as murder rates?), as succeeding pages will bear out, we are honestly witnessing what may be described as miraculous.

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