What is Morality?
The inevitable fore comings of being a child literally flash right before your eyes. One minute you are learning how to walk and talk and in the next you are graduating high school. We find ourselves constantly wondering where the hell all that time went. And in between all this growing up it seems we acquire a set of “morals” and “values”; merely things we tend to blame our actions and thoughts on. It’s like this illusory line comes into play where we place the good and the bad. Perhaps once you have a belief about something it becomes permanent and forever engraved in your head but I don’t think I have the particular values or perspectives on life as I once did. To think that one of a parent’s main ambitions is to produce a child and raise it to have said good morals and values. It is only slightly disturbing to think of Hitler or Stalin’s parents and wonder what happened?
As an adolescent we are taught an abundance of things, but if asked to come up with pertinent examples, I think a lot of us would stutter to come up with a few. The problem is that these lessons and ideals become instilled in us therefore becoming second nature – no thought process needed. A moral is something so excruciating and hard to be defined. Everyone seems to have their own set, but how is it that the majority sees the differences between okay and not in agreement? The absence of an explanation leads me to conclude that your own values and morals are dependent upon the circumstances you are subjected to.
The point that I am so desperately trying to convey is that certain situations I had to deal with as a child and a young adult have led to my morals and values consequently changing. Joan Didion once said, “I followed my own conscience. I did what I thought was right. How many mad men have said and meant it?” (On morality, 1965) A statement that is so relevant to my own thinking due to the fact that I have felt myself questioning where and how the “good and bad” contour was formed. If a mad man truly felt that a mass murder was right, and cohesive with his conscience, then who are any of us to circumscribe his well -being? When you think of this mad man in a different context, you resolve that maybe rather than being “mad” possibly, he has converted his pragmatic necessities into moral imperatives without second thought.
“You see I want to be quite obstinate about insisting that we have no way of knowing – beyond that fundamental loyalty to the social code- what is “right” what is “wrong” what is “good” what is “evil”. I dwell upon this because the most disturbing aspect of morality seem to me to be the frequency with which the word now appears; in the press, on television, in the most perfunctionary kinds of conversation.” (Joan Didion, on morality) What Joan Didion and presumably I keep diverging back to is the improper use of the word. What truly matters is exactly that- the way in which you toss these words around. Words like morals and values are merely titles. The manuscript of my childhood may or may not have stayed but there are still reminiscent little bits that remind me of who I am and where I came from. So what is morality?
I have no idea.