Posts Tagged ‘morality’

it’s the principle

04/06/2012

Think of the last time you got mad.

Got it in your head?

Tell yourself why you were mad.

Now ask yourself, “Was it worth it?”

Now ask yourself, “Really . . . was it worth it?”

I posted the other week about how I got angry at a coworker. In that time I’ve watched other people get angry and, as an objective observer, I can see the triviality of, well, of simply getting angry. Not to say they were wrong in the principle, mind you. But this has nothing to do with principle.

societal pressures

We feel a need to be angry because society tells us we should be. Our teachers, our parents, books and television have instilled in us what we dub “values” or “a code of honor” that we think must be correct. We get angry at something and then hide behind principle. We think we understand what’s right and what’s wrong.

When someone invades our privacy, we should feel violated. When someone shoulder bumps us in the hallway, we should feel indignant. When someone goes too slow on the highway (60 in a 60), we feel a personal affront to our character. We may say that we shouldn’t get mad at things like this, but as Seth Godin so aptly states, “We say we’d like people to think first and act later, but we get cut off in traffic and all bets are off.”

Seem out of whack? It isn’t. You do it. I do it, too (although I like to imagine I don’t get as angry as most people, but who knows?).

The interesting aspect of these societal pressures, and one of the only things that can get people to understand this concept, is one simple fact: if we were raised somewhere else, in a different time or by different people, our values would be very different.

Not an original thought, but one people understand on a mere intellectual level, not an intuitive one. Someone raised in Tehran does not have the same values as someone raised in Moscow. Someone raised in the 50s does not have the same values as someone raised in the 60s. You don’t have the same values as someone raised across the street from you.

We can escape these societal pressures if we make a conscientious effort day in and day out, moment to conscious moment. But it’s hard. Very hard. And maybe, for some people, it’s not worth it. And that’s OK.

Is it worth it for you?

Understand: we can control our reactions to outward stimuli. Only it’s not as simple as reading this blog post, agreeing with the principle of it, and moving on. (see above regarding effort)

there is a reason

There is a reason that person goes so slow on the highway. And it may not be as vindictive as you imagine.

There is a reason that person shoulder bumped you in the hallway. And it may not be that they are an asshole.

There is a reason that person invaded your privacy. And it may not have been with malicious intent.

There is a reason for everything everyone does, and failure to feel empathy for other people’s stories will result in the downfall of the individual.

And ultimately – and I do not make this claim lightly – of civilization.

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i want to be angry

08/03/2010

I am amazed sometimes (many times) at the immorality and cruelty of people. When you have done nothing untoward to them, they still think it’s a fine idea to steal your debit card, credit card and all the cash in your wallet, then go ahead and spend $300 at Rite Aid. If you’re asking yourself, “Did this happen to this guy?” the answer is “Why yes. Yes it did.” And if you’re asking yourself, “How can someone spend $300 at Rite Aid?” well, I don’t have an answer for that.

I know exactly when it happened and exactly who it was (well, what they look like anyway), and my first thought after realizing what had happened was to find them and pummel them into a bloody heap, maybe breaking their jaw and hopefully both their arms, as well. My thoughts raced at the revenge I would exact upon them for the fiscal hurt they had inflicted upon me.

Then after a few minutes I came back to my senses and realized that what’s done is done, with my favorite phrase “It is what it is” repeating over and over in my mind. I steadied my breathing and felt my pulse start to slow down. I started to relax.

the change of heart

But then something didn’t feel quite…well, quite right. I realized I didn’t want to be calmed down. For probably the first time in my life I realized that I wanted to be pissed off. I wanted to punch that brick wall. I wanted to walk into my kitchen, shout and throw my hat against the wall. I wasn’t sure why, just that it felt right to be angry. Now keep in mind I didn’t make it a public scene – anger is one thing; letting the world see your anger firsthand quite another.

The way I look at it, anger is not a bad emotion – it inspires action. The blood pumping. The adrenaline racing. The senses heightened – that’s irreplaceable. Anger, so long as it’s under control, lets you experience things you would not have otherwise experienced, for good or for ill. And if it is “for ill,” then most likely it will be something from which you take a lesson or two.

The only trouble is that anger can be a crippling emotion, just like sadness. It can harm you as much as it harms the person at whom your anger is directed. So I’ve decided that if I let the anger come, embrace it with my full being, then let it go just as smoothly, I’m much better off in the end.

And I’ll be even better off when I find the punk that stole my money…

see you in hell

05/14/2010

Have we reached the pinnacle of our existence?

Think about it: We’ve explored the entirety of our lands here on earth. We’ve populated anything and everything that’s above water – and it’s probably only a matter of time before we start on what’s below the waterline. We’re running out of room and we’ve got nowhere to go. The world population is the highest it’s ever been and it’s only going to get bigger. Thomas Malthus had it right.

And if you ask me, we’re all a bunch of shit bags. We treat the earth like crap, not to mention one another. We construct monstrous, overindulgent structures to prove how mighty we are, utilizing precious resources that can never be replenished. We create and use amenities we don’t need. We crave power over land, animals and people to justify our existence.

All in the name of self-indulgence. All in the name of what’s convenient.

And don’t think you’re innocent. Hell, we’re all guilty just by our mere existence, not to mention the cars we drive, the planes we fly, the cigarettes we smoke and the desk you’re sitting at right now. We destroy our natural habitats and give nothing in return. If we drive a car, we’re guilty. If we smoke a cigarette, we’re guilty. If we take long showers, we’re guilty. If we keep the heat in our home turned higher than it needs to be to survive, we’re guilty.

humanity is a virus

Look at HIV. One cell gets infected, but the virus doesn’t stop there. It keeps going until it’s infected every single cell it possibly can. It goes and goes until the host is dead. And the host’s death doesn’t do the virus any good – it doesn’t know any better. It dies too. It fed too strongly. It drank too deep. And it has to pay the price. The only difference between us and that virus is that we have the ability to reason, and this makes us all the more guilty.

A video to demonstrate my point (don’t mind the subtitles):

We’ve exploited what we’ve been given, destroyed what we’ve been blessed with. And it’s just a matter of convenience. We ask ourselves, “How can we make this bigger and better?” Or “How can we make this easier?”

Instead of adapting like the rest of the creatures on this planet, we steamroll.

twenty-twelve

If 2012 has to happen to bring the earth back to its natural state, so be it. If by my death, and yours, the earth will be saved, then that’s the way it has to be. We need the earth – it doesn’t need us. And don’t think we deserve to live simply because some of us are good, decent people. It takes more than helping an old lady across the street or donating to a capital campaign to build wind turbines and solar panels to protect this world. Human benevolence is a start from a sociological perspective, but it’s too late in the game to be enough.

and the home of the brave

If you’re an American and your ancestors came from Europe, you need to just shut up and rub your scalp for good luck. We acquired this country by genocide, built it with slave labor and developed it with the sweat equity of Europe’s poor and dispossessed (courtesy of mediahohoho). Do we pay for the sins of our fathers? Someone has to, because they sure as hell didn’t.

In following with that, are people inherently good? That has yet to be proven, in my eyes. Maybe so, but even if you’re a good person, chances are that while this world has been getting shit on, you stand by and do nothing. “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crises, maintain their neutrality.”

the will to act

Now this is the part where I have a call to action. As one voice we will rise up. As one people we will call to account the sins of our generation. United, we will shake the very foundations of this world! We will initiate change in the socio-political structure. Not just in thought but in deed. We will speak to the hearts and minds of anybody who will listen. And they. will. listen. Or they will face the wrath of a thousand screaming souls and be broken on the wheel for their arrogance and failure to act.

But alas, I’m a raindrop in a thunderstorm. A pebble tossed into the water that will NOT create a wave.

Or will I? Can we take action together? – Now? Not tomorrow. Not when you’ve rounded that bend or crossed that threshold. Now.

But as of yesterday, I’m one of the guilty. And so are you. Our actions henceforth must atone for that. Not for sins in regard to a religious entity, but rather for sins in regard to the earth. What can you do to contribute? Minorly. Majorly. You pick. But it eventually has to be majorly. It eventually has to be life-altering.

Otherwise, I’ll see you in hell.

fight the good fight

03/23/2010

Ever have a moral dilemma where you know you can’t win?

I haven’t had one in a while, so a situation I encountered a while back brought this to the forefront of my cognitive process. Can’t really elaborate too much on the situation – as too much detail tends to get me in trouble 🙂 – but a few weeks back, someone made a decision that grated on my moral sensibilities to the enth degree. I wanted to bring my argument to this person but sought advice first.

I was told I wouldn’t win the argument. I was told to pick my battles. But I knew I was right.

I’m reminded of a scene from the movie Braveheart. It’s a nondescript scene when William Wallace is still a child. In a meeting of Scottish village leaders, they decide to attack the English in retaliation for the murders of hundreds of their kinsmen. They understand that they cannot beat the English, and when one man raises this protest, Wallace’s father says, “We don’t have to beat them. We just have to fight them.”

He died in that battle. I lost in my argument.

But it’s OK. Because sometimes it’s not about winning. Sometimes it’s just about fighting the good fight.