The moral assertion points its speaker/audience to a path of oughtness. We can look at history and see that it usually corrects itself to the more compassionate, generous path. So, we can conclude that men want to be good, even if that means we only improve to be better, not yet good, but incrementally advancing in what we know we ought to be.
Today, I want to present the moral assertion as the basis for practical morality (ethics). I want to do this by arguing for the characteristics of a moral assertion that would mark a statement as moral, thus correcting our culture to the more generous, compassionate position.
If a moral assertion is to be corrective, then, it should seem untimely. For instance, the American Rebellion did not fit its historial context. The lesson of a few centuries prior to our insurgency is the divine right of kings: imperious monarchy sits enthroned, ecclesiastical authority thunders ex cathedra. In contretemps to this ingrained autocracy comes the pitiful American Rebellion with its hypocritical fulmination that "…all men are created equal…;" correct, we think now, but then ground-breaking and under closer scrutiny for its advocation by slave owners.
Great matter, but the point is the same. The American Rebellion, the insurgency against British Imperial rule, simply did not fit its time, so it requires a new explanation to make a case for itself. The resulting moral assertion made a case for change. History would need to correct itself to the more generous, compassionate position. The absolute statement of absolute equality before the governing body absolutely changes history. It is still the one great animating principle of American Idealism. We bless the world when we hold to legal equality before the law, even to our own peril.
In practical application, then, the moral assertion as historical change requires one to be right too early for one's own good. If you are right too early for your own good, you may be certain that you think about things others do not think about in ways that others do not think about them. This will mark you as "not a team player." People will decry not what you do, but "the way you do them." Formulaic thinkers will insist all could be "straightened out within the system," while their default position is still degradation of the system and, so, finally, debasement of the individual touched by the system.
The moral assertion with courage and energy should be a thought about which others of your own kind seldom think. Vast poverty and ingrained oppression, once exposed, may gain you an Academy Award (see Slumdog Millionaire) but will more likely expose the chasmic difference between the cultural decision makers and the troublesome sorts who nage at the collective conscience. Again, this occurs to the detriment of the contrary thinker, at least during his/her lifetime.
To imbue your moral assertion with courage and energy, you must hope to make the invisible plainly seen. Many there are who would blindly oppress others on principle but fewer there are who would callously subjugate a person they know as flesh and blood. Your courage and energy, to be morally focused, should take the mind of oppressor to the little considered human consequence of his actions (even his principled actions) and make him confront the human toll, person to person.
And so ends the time I alloted to get this blog up today. More tomorrow, God willing and typepad still in operation.