Category Archives: Morality
DAILY PROMPT : Where do your morals come from?
When I think of sources of morals, I think of personal guidelines that have been fed by different sources as the person develops from child to adult. When we are born our first contacts are our parents and so for much of our childhood what we deem to be right or wrong is to a very large extent defined by the influence we get from the lifestyle of our parents. Given that the first experiences (in anything; think sex; think school; think travelling, pretty much everything) tend to be the one that stick with us longer, and so it is not hard to see why most people would conclude that the ultimate source of morality is from the parents (home). This is partially true.
As a teen when you get into High School you have a natural tendency to want to “belong”. In a bid to fit in with the “cool kids” you tend let go of some of those morals (usually stringent ones) that you have imbibed from home and tweak and adjust them to suit your purpose. For instance your parents must have told you that you have to be at least 18 or 21 before you have sex. On getting to school, you find out that the “cool kids” have already had sexual experiences. With this realization you begin to rethink those morals from home and before you know it you are 14 and your girl friend is already pregnant.
The point I was trying to make in the previous paragraph is that even though we may have picked up our morals from our parents, the church or another source, it get diluted by the people and things that we experience along the way.
I like to think of morality as an ever evolving subject in a person’s life. As we grow in life we are faced constantly with experiences that challenge our morals and cause us to shift ground most times, even though we might not admit to it. A person’s morality is like technology, today it seems like the best and it gets most of the problems solved, but tomorrow we are going to be faced with a different set of challenges that causes us to have a rethink about our position. Let me give another personal example that helps to buttress the evolutionary nature of morality. When I was a kid in High School, my parents led me to believe that smoking cigarettes was a completely immoral thing to do. At the time I did not ask any questions I took my parents word as being right, and given that they were older than I was with more life experiences than I had, they had to be right. When I got into the university I met a couple of people who I became good friends with. These people were smokers. Initially when I found out they were smokers it triggered an alarm in me (SMOKING = BAD, you need to run), but I did not run. I stayed back. Why did I stay back?
As I began to learn more about my new friends over the course of our freshman year, I found out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with these people. They excelled in their academics just like me (or in some cases better than me), they were trustworthy, respectful people. They had personal issues just like another breathing human being. Nothing about them stood out particularly except that they like to sometimes inhale thick smoke. Seeing them made me rethink what I had been told by my parents. I could not find any evidence in them to justify the title of “immoral” that my parents had branded smokers.
In essence I think morality is EVOLUTIONARY (every changing and growing as we develop) as opposed to being STATIONARY (coming from a single unchangeable source).
Daily Prompt: A House Divided I decided to take a side that most wouldn’t
These days the media has been saturated by a tonne of debates surrounding the rightness/Wrongness of abortion. Both sides have brought forward credible points to back their claim as to the legitimacy of the act of committing abortion. But I don’t think that the Propriety of abortion is as black and white as some have purported it to be.
To start things of I would like to disclose the nature of my own fundamental views, because I realize that my fundamentals play a very active role in crafting my opinion of the issues of life. I am a Liberalist by nature. I believe in letting people fashion out their own rules and regulations in life. I also believe that as much as people want to accentuate their individuality they should also apply an appreciable level of discretion in order not to infringe on the existence of others. I also believe in the “Golden Mean” by Aristotle which postulates essentially that people should try to avoid extremes in every situation. For instance it is said that courage is the mid-point between two extremes, Cowardice (low limit) and Recklessness (upper limit). In a nutshell, I support freedom of the people as a singular unit and also the protection of people as a collective unit, Hence the need to be discrete about our own actions and how they affect others.
The most popular point I have heard against abortion is that life begins when the eggs are fertilized by the sperm, and thus the abortion of a fetus whether fully/partially formed is murder and axiomatically wrong. Another interesting point I have come across is that unborn children have emotions, much like their born counterparts, and that killing a being with emotion is wrong. Of course there is also the religious angle which blatantly denounced the act without any reservations. There are a multitude of points that have been raised against abortion for as long as this debate has been on. These are all cogent points, but I feel as though the freedom of choice of the individual (The mother in question) is overlooked in all of this. Most of the points raised against abortion all focus more on the baby and very little attention is paid to the welfare of the mother involved. What about her opinion on the issue? I mean, she is going to end up bearing the task of carrying the child for the entire gestation period, go thru the daunting pains of child birth and, more often than not, carry the cross when it comes to the child’s development. I don’t want to seem callous to people on the opposite side of the table, but shouldn’t the opinion of the mother (who wants abortion) count significantly?
When I was growing up my dad used to play one particular Jimmy Cliff Album a lot. I used to hate it so much that whenever we got into the car I would immediately put on my ear phones so I could not hear the songs. But the annoying thing was that because I usually sat at the extreme right of the back seat right in front of the speakers, the song would still make its way into my ear in the slightest way. One day I decided to take off my head phones to listen and I heard this song “Who Feels It, Knows It”. I was about eight at the time and did not really understand the lyrics. But as I grew older the true meaning began to sink in. Unless you have experienced a certain situation/thing, you can never really appreciate it for all that it is. If you have never been pregnant, there is not pregnancy book, podcast, or seminar that will give you a proper sense of what is involved. Only a cancer patient call tell you what chemotherapy is about, no book can give you the raw emotion that are experienced by the patients.
If freedom of the individual is a given, then a woman should be free to abort a baby if she so wishes. Some might want to further probe the intentions behind an abortion decision, but that would further complicate the issue and would lead to the infringement on human freedom to choose.
As Christians we are told not to judge, and that we should leave that task to the “higher Authority”. I am quite certain that other religions also have such provisions like this one. So if we know this why do we bother ourselves with a task that is not ours.
If you feel that abortion is entirely wrong, as strongly as you feel opposed to it, leave the task of “retribution” to the “higher authority” to handle. In such a complicated and cosmopolitan world that we live in today, everyone is some way is committing an atrocity to the “higher authority” no matter how small or insignificant we may think it is. It is only fair that we keep our judgments to ourselves.
Let Us Live And Let Live.
“When was the last time your walked away from a discussion, only to think of The Perfect Comeback hours later? Recreate the scene for us, and use your winning line.”
This is a comeback for two conversations I had at some point, one about world end and the other about sexuality. This was published back in Dec 2012
We have been informed by the Mayan calendar that the world would come to an end today, December 21, 2012, which I took with the proverbial grain of salt. But to be clear I don’t believe that any human on earth can accurately predict when the world would come to an end. Human civilization has constantly evolved over centuries and technological advancement has followed in the same vein. We can now predict the simple ones like rain and the tough ones like hurricanes, earthquakes etc. But are we there as to be able to accurately determining our apocalypse? I think not. Don’t ask me how I know this, because I can’t really explain it. All we can do is to keep guessing. I was watching this show recently “Doomsdays Preppers” and it made me laugh profusely. I just thought it was ridiculous that people were actually preparing for the end of life. It just did not make any sense to me. It’s not like getting ready to travel to your hometown, putting toothbrush, shoes, clothes etc together. Do we really know what will be needed when the end comes? Again I think not.
All this talk about world end has got me thinking about heaven and hell. I was born into a somewhat strict catholic household, so the idea of heaven and hell, good and bad was embedded in me very early. It was simple, Do good things: you go to heaven. Do bad things: you go to hell. At the age of five it seemed like a very straight forward and easy rule to follow, the line between good and bad was made very apparent, it appeared quite clear at the time. But as I grew older and got exposed to the complexities of the human existence, it dawned on me that this moral line of good and bad was actually more blurred than I ever imagined. Certain things that I was taught as being good were considered as taboo by other people (e.g. eating pork meat was good, but my Muslim friends were taught that Pigs were dirty animals and should not be eaten). And certain things I was brought up to write-off as bad were in fact not so bad after all (Homosexuality has always and still is described as the worst thing that can ever happen to you). Still on the issue of homosexuality, when I was growing up, I was taught that homosexuals are spawns of the devil and that they never succeed in life because of the path they have chosen. First off, I have come to learn that sexual orientation is not something a human being gets to pick, like choosing teams during soccer practice. Second is that I have seen a couple of people who are gay and their lives are pretty great. They have good jobs, pay their taxes, live in comfortable houses, have kids (and responsible ones might I add), generally they live like any other heterosexual would. It doesn’t seem to me like they are suffering any type of punishment. In fact the only punishment that they suffer is the one meted out to them by heterosexuals. Living in such a world with a plethora of moral complexities how do we know exactly what takes you to heaven and what takes you to hell?
Usually when people want to refer to the location of heaven, they would point in the upward direction and hell to the downward direction. But is this really the truth? Again I think not. With the privilege of an enlightening western educational background, I know that above the different layers of the sky as we know it, troposphere, mesosphere etc, it is just space. Just free flowing, gravity-less space. And the last time I checked, no Astronaut came back to earth with enough evidence to show that there is a “God” out there in space. Now turning downward, that’s just the earth’s core. Much like space, it is most likely not habited by any spiritual being. But given the normative definition of hell that we have been taught (a place beaming with heat) it is not hard to see why people consider the earth’s core as hell; this is because the temperature of the core is almost equitable to that of the surface of the sun.
My idea of heaven is a place (note: when I say place, I don’t mean a physical location, I am referring to a magical transcendental state) of eternal rest after our struggles here on earth. A place where you just sleep forever and the only time you are active is in your dreams (beautiful dreams). It’s like the reverse of being brain dead, your body is dead but your head is very well active. Many people might not agree with my own idea of heaven, and I do apologize if you find this description of heaven offensive, but that is the way heaven appears in my head when I think about it.
Like I mentioned earlier, this state of moral confusion in which we have found ourselves makes me wonder if the path to heaven or hell is really that black and white. The bible says thou shall not kill. We humans have translated this law to only cover our fellow humans, leaving out the animals. Which begs the question: is it a sin to kill animals for meat? According to the same bible God created all animals and trees and essentially everything around us, and liked them and was quite happy with what had been created. So when you kill a cow to serve as a protein source for yourself and family, is it a sin? Bear in mind that Animals have a mind of their own, they have blood running through their veins, they feel pain and to an extent they are quite capable of exhibiting emotion. These are all attributes that humans also have, so what justifies killing an animal? The answer to this question holds in itself the true nature of the path to heaven or hell.
At the risk of bordering on the “Moral relativism” or even the blasphemous path, I dare to say that there are more ways to heaven than we think. Believe it or not we live our lives in one way or another that is not worthy of heaven in the normative sense. Even those who think they are living a totally pure life (the clergy included) are in fact in the littlest ways living in sin. Going by the staunch prescriptions of most religions, we are all living in sin, and we are all to perish in hell as retribution for all the atrocities we have committed here on earth. But I refuse to believe that “God” is that punitive in his ways as to condemn every person on earth to eternal misery. “God” as I realized on my own, is a lot more forgiving and merciful than we think. I believe that everyone’s transcendental faith is carefully considered on a less draconian basis. I would not be surprised if it turns out that a man like Gaddafi (Late Dictator leader of Libya, in Northern Africa) might end up in heaven even after all the atrocities he has committed here on earth, and not hell according to public opinion. In a grander scenario, we might all get some type of “global pardon” and all will be let into heaven regardless of the past.
September. October. November. December.
To many around the world these months have a religious significance. These months bring forth the spirit of happiness, sharing and celebration. During this segment of the year; from east to west, north to south the world is wrapped in various types of celebratory activities. The Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, Christians celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate Chanukah / Hanukkah, African Americans in the U.S celebrate Kwanza and Buddhists celebrate Diwali etc. I have also been told that Atheists, although they don’t have a generally known holiday, spend more time with their friends and families during this period. Although these religions vary in the way they carryout festive rituals, there is a common denominator, a common concept. This common denominator is that spirit of sharing and love. It is during this time of year that you can see people of different faiths let go of their prejudices for each other and just relish in the moment. There is gift sharing, family dinners and parties everywhere. In this period Investment Bankers and the likes, take time off their very busy schedules to just be and relax. There is joy and laughter in the air everywhere you go, it is quite infectious.
Down here in Nigeria things aren’t so different. The people here have the same joyful spirit flowing around but it is tainted with a very dark fear. Fear that is embedded in the minds of people regardless of their social or economic place in the society. A fear that grips everyone from the elderly to the young, no one is immune. This fear stems from the fact that these celebratory months have a history of being ravaged by a huge wave of crimes of various types. Car thefts, burglaries, rapes, ritual killings among other despicable acts, skyrocket to such heights relative to other months. The one that quite baffles me is the issue of ritual killings, given the magnitude of church programs in this country; it is quite ironic to see that there is such a high occurrence of fetish activities. The entire country is held spellbound as scores of social deviants perpetuate incredible horror in the country. Parents inflict greater restriction on the mobility of their children while adults abstain from unnecessary outings and activate self-imposed curfews on themselves. No one can really place the particular date when things went arye, but it is quite a terrible situation.
During this period in Nigeria, especially in the month of December, people begin the annual pilgrimage to their hometowns. In Abuja, Lagos and other urban cities people pack their bags, service their cars or buy plane tickets in anticipation of the trip. This yearly pilgrimage is mostly prevalent among the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. No matter how rich or poor, young or old an Igbo man or woman is in the city, when the month of December rolls around they do not hesitate to answer that home call. They shop for the best dresses, shoes, cars and other personal and household items which they carry along with them to their hometowns, where they can show off to their rural counterparts how successful they have been in the city. There is this pressure everyone carries around with them during this time to try and outdo the next person. At this time of the year markets are extremely crowded with herds of people seeking to grab first before stocks run out. For many, much of the income saved from January is spent in a space of about one week. The cause of the fear lies in this very pronounced culture of trying to outdo the others and be seen in a particular light.
In the book “Discourse on Inequality”, Jean-Jacques Rousseau makes us see that humans have inadvertently turned themselves into slaves of their own wants and desires. I find his writing quite interesting because, he attempts to buttress the true “nature” of man by peeling away all these layers of lies and facades he has coated himself with to seem superior to others. He highlights the danger of this unnatural tendency that man possess to want to alter his true nature, by deceiving, cheating and killing his fellow man to possess material things. In summary Jean-Jacques Rousseau alludes to the fact that, like a vestigial organ, man has rendered his moral sense of judgment useless so as to achieve his selfish objectives and thus has in effect deviated from his real self. Applying Jean-Jacques Rousseau philosophy to the situation at hand, it is quite obvious that this same tendency is very much at play still. Those who perpetuate these reprehensible acts have a desire to seem “successful” to their peers at home, and thus would go to great lengths (even at the expense of lives) to reach their “unnatural” goals.
This year in Nigeria is no different. On my way to the office today, I heard a rather grueling story of rape and extortion. This horrific act took place in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. I don’t have the full details of the story, but this is what I could gather. The story goes like this:
The woman (name withheld), residing in Gwarinpa, on Monday told the police her ordeal. The lady said she boarded a taxi from Gwarinpa to Wuse.
“The driver sprayed air freshener in the cab. I woke up in an uncompleted building naked and messed up. I received an envelope the next day containing a video disk showing how I was raped. The envelope also contained a demand for me to pay 5 million naira (about $31,000) into an account in one of the new generation banks”. More.
Imagine the height of inhumanity; as if it wasn’t traumatic enough to rape her, they are demanding a ransom. This is just LUDICROUS!!!. As sad as the story is, the real tragedy is that, before the year runs out, we are going to hear more stories of a similar nature. Some more haunting and horrifying than this. The law enforcement in Nigeria is not as efficient and effective as we would like it to be. So if you are in Nigeria right now or scheduled to be here, please take extreme precaution. Regulation is key, try and limit unnecessary movements. These villains have no aorta of human sympathy and should not be toyed with.
I was driving home from work today, tired and exhausted, I could barely hold on to the steering wheel. 4:30 am, that’s when I woke up this morning, much like every other day, to prepare for the office. And a few minutes after the hour of eight in the evening I am still stuck in traffic. As I power through the radio stations for something decent and inspiring for the arduous ride home, I stumble on one of my best stations; Rhythm 93.7. What are they talking about? They are going through some of the stories feeding in from around the world, and a particular story strikes me. The headline goes something like this: “Brazilian student, aged 20, agrees to sell her virginity to the highest bidder in an on-line auction setup to raise money for a charity that builds homes for the destitute.” Now I can see some mouths opening wide and gasping in surreal surprise. Some of the first few thoughts trooping into my head went like this; “is she insane?”, “She is a whory virgin”, “this is a mutant strain of lunacy”, “but then again its charity, maybe it’s not so bad”, etc. Even at this point of writing this post I am not sure I have been successful in reconciling the two ideas “Charity” and “Sex”.
Immediately I got home I went online to learn more on the story, and just entering the phrase “Charity Sex” in Google, I was amazed at the amount of information available out there on the issue. Apparently Catarina Migliorini (The Brazilian student) isn’t the first to explore charity from a rather lascivious angle. One of such related stories I was able to find was about a Chilean Prostitute by name Maria Carolina, who had auctioned 27 hours of sex for about $4,000 to raise money for a national charity. Another interesting story was about FPA, a sexual health charity organization in the UK, which has resorted to selling sex toys in a bid to raise funds to better educate people on sex and relationships. Here are a few lines from the website that capture the essence of the Charity:
“Our mission is to help establish a society in which everyone has positive, informed and non-judgmental attitudes to sex and relationships; where everyone can make informed choices about sex, relationships and reproduction so that they can enjoy sexual health free from prejudice or harm.”
The charity has setup an on-line sex store called “Desire & Pleasure”, where people can go and shop guilt-free for their favorite sex toys.
These stories bring up some many questions, mostly relating to morality, to bear. One of such questions is “Does the End justify the Means?” The implication of this question is whether an action or series of actions that is/are glaringly immoral or harmful justified by the outcome it produces no matter how favorable it might be? We now live in a sexually charged world where sex is the number one seller of merchandise. The Phrase “Sex Sells” is a mere testament to the hypnotic ability of sex to move products faster off the shelves, and rack in the much needed cash. From Pharmaceuticals to Banking to Automobiles, every industry has embraced this fact, and have done their very best to exploit it. Sex has also played a major role in the budding career of some of Hollywood’s elite. Take Kim Kardashian for example, her showbiz career got a major boost after the release of her sex-tape with former boyfriend Ray J. Her “sex-capades” caught on tape also led to the blossoming careers of every other person in her family.
With so much sex swirling around these days in varied forms, its makes it much harder to draw the line between Morality and Immorality. How do you Judge the case of Catarina Migliorini?
On the one hand, you want to commend her supposed act of selflessness. For going out of her way to give up what is generally considered to be the most revered treasure of a young lady, all for a good cause and with no apparent intention of profiting from it personally. This, my friends, might be a true expression of altruism in theory.
But on the other hand you have to question the “Means” she aims to accomplish her act of altruism. Where do you draw the line between “Hooker” and “Philanthropist”? Like I mentioned earlier, the answer to this might lie in the answer to another question, “Does the Ends justify the Means?”
To be honest I don’t think I am entirely against her quest, but…..
It would be a great pleasure to get the views and opinions of those who read this post. What do you think?