Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
 I believe that is how the story goes.

The subject is morality. Not mortality for we all knows where that goes. 
Morality has been preached and taught and even legislated since time began. Morality, some say, is what keeps us from going back to a time of anarchy.

Morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are distinguished as ‘proper’ and those that are ‘improper’.
Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion, or culture.
Immorality is the opposition to morality, while amorality is as an unawareness of, indifference toward, or disbelief in any set of moral standards or principles.

Ethics is commonly used interchangeably with ‘morality,’ and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group, or individual.
Some socio-biologists contend that the set of behaviors that constitute morality evolved largely because they provided possible survival and/or reproductive benefits or evolutionary success. Humans consequently evolved “pro-social” emotions, such as feelings of empathy or guilt.
So moral codes are ultimately founded on emotional instincts and intuitions that were selected for in the past because they aided survival and reproduction?
Empathy, reciprocity, altruism, cooperation, and a sense of fairness are all signs of morality but we possess the ability to engage in deception, gossip and reputation of others.

There are many types of religious value systems. Modern monotheistic religions define ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ by the laws and rules set forth by their respective scriptures and interpretations.
Religions provide different ways of dealing with moral dilemmas. In monotheistic traditions, certain acts are viewed in more absolute terms, such as abortion, murder, atrocities, sexual practice, slavery or divorce.
Religious teachings can be read as giving us a carte blanche for harsh attitudes to children, the mentally handicapped, animals, the environment, the divorced, unbelievers, people with various sexual habits, and elderly women.

No matter the teachings or the training or the examples, we all seem to know in our gut when something is not right. We may perform immoral or amoral acts, with a self-described shame only judged if caught.
We hold our moralist proud except when the rubber hits the road we look the other way. We will invade other countries only to leave despair and desolation. Our moral solution is to throw some money at it and walk away. Our moral dilemma can be ignored until the water turns to poison or the plastic washes up on the beaches or nuclear waste doesn’t go away.

Do we have a moral obligation to take care of the rest of the globe? Do we have a moral obligation to take care of each other? Are we morally obligated to care for ourselves?
What was morally acceptable at one point in history may not be now or visa versa. There is no definitive line on what ‘is’ or ‘is not’ moral, only a vague suggestion and a personal decision.

Only questions, and no answers, at least from this writing.

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