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Sunday, January 16, 2011

MORALITY IS NOT ALWAYS BLACK & WHITE



Happy New Year to all of you.
We have been slacking on this blog, but that has been as a result of everybody being busy.
Somepeople have been asking me how come I don't talk about religion as much as I used to. I took a Political Theory Class this past semester and during the course of the class my feelings about Morality changed a lot.

Morality is not as black or white as I seemed to believe. Nothing in life is as simple as some people make it out to be. Sometimes we make moral judgments on issues and become disturbed when others cannot see the logic or the morality in our arguments.
There was one issue that came up between I and my cousin that really highlighted the complexity surrounding us as Human Beings. I and my cousin went to Walmart and after we had finished purchasing our groceries, and put our stuff in the car, I wanted to leave the grocery cart in one of the cart thingys that we normally see at such stores. But my cousin insisted on returning the cart back inside Walmart and leaving it there, his rationale being that when he used to work at Costco, he use to hate when people would leave their carts lying around and he would have to go around to gather the whole carts and put them in a single file. So he sort of understood the 'pain' of the workers in Walmart tasked with getting back the carts and he wanted to help them out. On one hand, my cousin's sentiment can be appreciated. He wanted to do the right thing and help out the workers, he basically showed empathy for their situation. But then I pointed out to him the flaw in his sentiment, lets say everybody who goes to Walmart decided to start returning their carts back inside the store instead of leaving them strewn around, in no short time the people who get paid to gather those carts would be out of a job. Afterall, there would be no reason to pay somebody to gather up carts if customers did it themselves. So on one hand, in the Short Term what my cousin did could be viewed as the right thing to do, on another hand, in the long term what my cousin did if replicated by everyone else could be viewed as the wrong thing to do because it was basically putting people out of jobs.

Even the simplest thing as giving Aid to people who are poor may be in the short term viewed as morally right, but in the long term it may be viewed as morally wrong. Take for example aid to Africa, some people claim that it acts as more as a handicap for the African than as a helping hand. Morality is not always Black or White.

My point with this anecdote is to prove that Morality is not as black and white as somepeople make it out to be. Life in general is not simple, the choices we make are not always black and white. There is a whole lot of gray. And to tie this into the greater topic of religion, my point is that I realized that even though I might disagree on some people's religious views and the stance they take on issues. I need to approach such things as a learner not as somebody who believes that they have the right moral high ground to pursue an issue.
For example, I use to be anti-torture but after watching a whole lot of '24' and seeing the choices somepeople had to make concerning their loved ones. My views on torture started to change to the point where I am indecisive on what the right moral argument is for torture.

Human Beings as a whole are complex, from our politics to our social life. So when some doctrines or ideologies seek to explain everything away as if there is one simple guideline that applies to everybody. It befuddles me. Moreover, I wanted to ask a question to all my readers, do you guys think there should is a separation between a person's public life and personal life? Do you guys even believe such a thing exists? Is there a public life we live and a personal life we live? Take for example a politician, does he have a two lives? Or just one? Does he have a public life and a personal life? And if so, should they be separate? If say the politician is a Christian in his personal life, why should the teachings of his faith not dictate how he handles public matters?

8 comments:

El-Divine said...

thank God now ur growing (in experience, not just age). as ur experience grows you'll see d same reason ppl have questioned morality and then left those questions to the birds. life is just not that simple
and abt the slacking, true man. but then again, ppl b getting into lots of stuff. but some stuffs on tha way.
n if i dnt make sense, 4giv. im so goone

Azazel said...

Lol u made sense bro.
And u are right bro, it shows growth.
A lot of men before me have had those questions, and they have either dropped them or realised just I have realised.
That our complexity as human beings is what makes us unique. It is what makes us special.
We should appreciate our complex nature, rather than try to stifle it.

Realist said...

As someoene who worked as an assistant clerk (aka bag boy) at Kroger's. I was responsible for bringing in those carts or as we call them down south, bogeys. I use to love those people that left their carts as far away as possible because it allowed me more time to slack off and act like i was woeking instead of being inside and bagging groceries...lol

But yea... I came to the realization that in life right and wrong differ based on the situation. What is right in one situation could be devastatingly wrong in another. Life doesnt happen in black and white, it happens in the shades of grey in between.

Nice blogpost.

rethots said...

True, morality is not always black or white.

As per the walmart charts, your cousin's action is simply a matter of personal choice and not necessarily a moral thing. Customers are not obligated to return charts, tis a matter of choice.

Public & private life should be separated, however, both should be governed by the same principles & values.

Myne Whitman said...

Morality like many things in life is def not black and white. I have personally come to accept that many of us live in those shades of grey in between. That said, there are some principles that one cannot turn their backs on especially if they've been brought up that way. And then the conscience too is a veritable whip that keeps us in line.

LucidLilith said...

I agree completely. Morality is very very subjective. What I consider a moral issue may not be the same for another person. For instance, I believe children should be spanked. Others see it as child abuse.

When I go to a restaurant, i believe tipping should be at 20 percent no more no less. I believe people should not hold up a table chatting away because these waiters make their living turning tables and sitting as many customers as possible. When i brought up these issues with friends they looked at me like I was crazy.

The Messiah said...

Morality is actually black and white, the only complexity is the fact that it is relative. Your two examples are perfect examples of my point. Your cousin is actually right; it's morally correct to put your shit back where it belongs. Is it beneficial? No. It seems as though you mistaken morality with profit (not talking only money here). The "cart-returners" were hired because people lack moral integrity. If people had the courtesy or at least the empathy to treat each other with regard (until there's a reason to withhold the respectful treating), then most businesses would fold. If everyone gave clothes to the naked, would Salvation Army exist? If government doesn't give tax break to corporations that donate to charity, would the corporations give out all that potential profit?

As for the African kids example, let us agree that morality is based on logic and empathy. Is it logical to keep feeding someone without teaching them to cook, and cry about how "mal-nourished" they are (keeping in mind, they are as well-fed as the food you donate)? Wouldn't it be logically better to prop the receiver of the donations to create a better nation, instead of donate and donate and donate and expect them to independently develop themselves? C'mon Let's be real here.

Morality is not black and white when it's based on opinion, but is when based on logic and truth. Think about it.

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