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[美国]Moral Issues 美式道德

2005-11-04 00:00

 Do Americans have any morals? That's a good question. Many people insist that ideas about right and wrong are merely personal opinions. Some voices, though, are calling Americans back to traditional moral values. William J. Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education, edited The Book of Virtues in 1993 to do just that. Bennett suggests that great moral stories can build character. The success of Bennett's book shows that many Americans still believe in moral values. But what are they?

  美国人还有道德吗?这是个好问题。许多人坚持对与错乃是个人的意见。但是,还是有些人在呼唤美国人回到传统的道德价值里去。威廉.班奈特,前任美国教育部长,正是为了此目的而在一九九三年编辑了《美德》这本书。班奈特认为伟大的道德故事可以建造性格。班奈特这本书的成功显示了许多美国人仍然相信道德的价值。但是它们到底为何?

 To begin with, moral values in America are like those in any culture. In fact, many aspects of morality are universal. But the stories and traditions that teach them are unique to each culture. Not only that, but culture influences how people show these virtues.

  最开始,道德价值在美国就像在任何其它的文化一样。事实上,许多道德的观点是全球一致的。但是,不同的文化则有不同的故事和传统来教导它们。不仅如此,文化也影响了人民如何表现这些美德。

 One of the most basic moral values for Americans is honesty. The well-known legend about George Washington and the cherry tree teaches this value clearly. Little George cut down his father's favorite cherry tree while trying out his new hatchet. When his father asked him about it, George said, "I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my hatchet." Instead of punishment, George received praise for telling the truth. Sometimes American honesty-being open and direct-can offends people. But Americans still believe that "honesty is the best policy."

  美国人最基本的道德价值之一是诚实。众所周知的乔治.华盛顿砍樱桃树的故事,即将此道德教导地极为清楚。小乔治在试他新斧头时砍倒了爸爸最心爱的樱桃树。当爸爸问他的时候,乔治说:“我不能说谎,我用我的斧头砍了它。”乔治非但未被惩罚,反而因为诚实而被赞赏。有时候美国人仍然相信“诚实是最上策”。

 Another virtue Americans respect is perseverance. Remember Aesop's fable about the turtle and the rabbit that had a race? The rabbit thought he could win easily, so he took a nap. But the turtle finally won because he did not give up. Another story tells of a little train that had to climb a steep hill. The hill was so steep that the little train had a hard time trying to get over it. But the train just kept pulling, all the while saying, "I think I can, I think I can." At last, the train was over the top of the hill. "I thought I could, I thought I could," chugged the happy little train.

  另外一个为美国人所尊崇的美德为坚忍。记得龟兔赛跑这则伊索寓言吗?兔子以为它可以赢的很轻松,便睡了个午觉,但是乌龟再最后终因不放弃而赢了这场比赛。另一个故事谈到一个必须爬过陡峭山头的小火车,山头是这么陡,以至于小火车很难爬上去,但是它仍不断地爬,并不停地说:“我想我能做到,我能做到。”最后,火车终于爬过了山头,“我就知道我可以。”这个快乐的小火车继续往前去。

 Compassion may be the queen of American virtues. The story of "The Good Samaritan" from the Bible describes a man who showed compassion. On his way to a certain city, a Samaritan man found a poor traveler lying on the road. The traveler had been beaten and robbed. The kind Samaritan, instead of just passing by, stopped to help this person in need. Compassion can even turn into a positive cycle. In fall 1992, people in Iowa sent truckloads of water to help Floridians who had been hit by a hurricane. The next summer, during the Midwest flooding, Florida returned the favor. In less dramatic ways, millions of Americans are quietly passing along the kindnesses shown to them.

  同情心,可能是美国的道德之最了。圣经中的《好撒玛利亚人》的故事,描述一个流露同情心的人。在这个撒玛利亚人出发去某城市的途中,看到一个可怜的旅客躺在路旁。这旅客被鞭打、抢劫,这位仁慈的撒玛利亚人非但没有视而不见,反而停下来帮助这位有需要的人。同情心还可以变成一个正面循环,在一九九二年的秋天,爱荷华州的居民将好几辆卡车的水送到受飓风侵袭的佛罗里达州;而就在第二年夏天,当中西部闹水灾的时候,佛州人便投挑报李。数以百万计的美国人民正用较不醒目的方式回报人们向他们表达的善意。

 In no way can this brief description cover all the moral values honored by Americans. Courage, responsibility, loyalty, gratitude and many others could be discussed. In fact, Bennett's bestseller-over 800 pages-highlights just 10 virtues. Even Bennett admits that he has only scratched the surface. But no matter how long or short the list, moral values are invaluable. They are the foundation of American culture-and any culture.

  在这么一篇短短的文章里,无论如何也不能将美国人所尊崇的道德述尽。勇气、责任心、忠诚、感激之心还有许多其它可以讨论的。事实上,班奈特最畅销的书──超过八百页──只谈到了十种美德。即使班奈特也承认他只谈到了皮毛而已。但是不论这张道德表是多长或短,道德价值都是无价的。他们是美国文化──和任何其它国家的文化之基础。

相关热词:英美 文化

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