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).
“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.
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?