I’ve always been annoyed by the cookie cutter sayings of those around me. Even when I respected and admired the person who was speaking, something didn’t feel right. Until recently, though, I couldn’t figure out why.
Why is it that I feel my stomach turn whenever someone regurgitates the same tired talking points as everyone else?
I have no issue with people who take conventional (even predictable) stances, provided they actually have reason to take them, even when I vehemently disagree with their stance or reasoning.
Hell, I usually like that kind of person.
The more I thought about it, the closer I came to a realization. Do you know what I realized?
I realized that I hate laziness.
When someone is spouting off at the mouth about right and wrong, or sin, or what so-and-so did (implying that so-and-so should be ashamed of themselves), they’re usually just being lazy.
Specifically, they’re being intellectually lazy…and the more intelligent that someone is, the more intense my reaction to their laziness is.
I expect idiots to spew nonsense without a thought, but someone intelligent who does so is squandering their talents. They have the capacity to be an individual, to be unique, but then sadly waste that capacity.
The Cookie Cutter Morality of whatever culture you belong to (or were raised as, or whatever) is not unique.
Every member of that culture is going to have almost exactly the same outlook. The closer they are to intellectually average, the more of a carbon copy their moral code is going to be.
Even worse (at least in most cases) the person speaking doesn’t even really care about what they’re preaching. Not only are they squandering their capacity for unique thought, they are doing so for no useful reason.
They don’t care about what so-and-so did, it’s just something to gossip about. They don’t care about the issue of right and wrong they’re discussing, it’s just a way to show they’re in another’s in-group.
Now, this isn’t unusual. Hell, I’m quick to tell you that I don’t care about most things people obsess over.
Not actually caring about events outside of your in-group and circle of influence isn’t an issue of morals and ethics, but a matter of practicality. Let us focus instead on what is relevant.
Since this is a discussion on why you should make your own morals, we should first define in certain terms what we are seeking.
What are Morals?
Being that dictionaries exist, I’ll save myself some typing by giving you the screen shot below from Merriam-Webster.
Now, if you read ALL of this (you did read it, didn’t you?) then hopefully you’ll see where I’m headed with this. If we take this definition of Moral, then we can outline the following truths about a person’s code of standards and morals.
A Moral Code is…
- A matter of perception, an abstraction as opposed to something concrete.
- Unprovable, but very compelling anyway.
- One’s sense of right and wrong.
This tells us that morals are not real – we can’t hold them in our hands – but are instead how something is perceived. When we perceive something, we are compelled to see that thing as right or wrong if it relates to our morals in any way.
With this definition in hand, and our thoughts on it, we can draw new conclusions.
People who accept the standard of morals they’re given are not only intellectually lazy…they are also easily controlled.
If you found yourself in a position where your advancement depended upon another man acting against his own interests, making him believe in a system of morals along those lines would be a very effective way to accomplish your goals.
Such a person would act completely against their own interests, seeing every action they take that harms them as somehow contributing to a greater good.
A greater good that they cannot prove, cannot hold, cannot actually see, but are nonetheless compelled to pursue.
Now, this opens up a Pandora’s Box of topics we could explore…but that’s not my goal here.
Instead, we’ll stick to the reasons every thinking creature should follow their own code of morals and standards. Next we look at how moral relativism pertains to our understanding of morals.
Moral Relativism Versus Your Code of Morals
Moral Relativism is a complicated sounding word with a remarkably simple definition.
All it means is that since morals are a matter of perception of right and wrong…and since morals are abstract, unprovable, and personally compelling…then two people or groups could act completely in line with their own morals and be in complete disagreement with each other.
It’s a fancy pair of words that means, “I see why you feel that way, even if I don’t also feel that way.”
That may or may not be good for you personally. Complete reliance on moral relativism can cause a person or group to act against their own interests just like a hollow code of morals can.
If you want to see an example of moral relativism gone wrong, just look at any country (and there are a lot of them) that prioritizes non-citizens and refugees over citizens when there is an issue.
The proper way to utilize moral relativism is to use it in regard to any issue that truly has no impact on you.
You may disagree with the stance, reasons, or actions of another person or group, but if it has no impact on you, then why bother with it?
If a situation does impact you, though…that’s a different story.
If you fall back on moral relativism in a situation like that, then you will regret it. It will feel like weakness, and you’d better believe other people and groups will see it as weakness. You will be unhappy.
What if you don’t actually care, though? What if your code of morals was not your own? If it was simply the one you were given by your family, or your religion, or your country of origin, what then?
Then you are trapped between a rock and a hard place. If you act, then you will regret that action. You will be unhappy. If you don’t act, then you will regret that inaction. You will be unhappy.
The way that you avoid this is by doing what you actually want to do. What you actually believe is right.
Not what your father believes is right…not what your religion dictates is right…not what your countrymen say is right…what YOU believe is right.
That is how you simultaneously avoid being controlled and avoid as many regrettable situations that lower your quality of life as possible.
But hey, you could always be lazy and miserable and toe the line. Your call!
Until next time, friends…
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