So a little over a week ago I was having a talk with a friend about morality and judgment and I found myself explaining that there weren’t a lot of things I considered “wrong” by their very nature, or subject to my moral judgment. That, in general, I was okay with a lot of things that others seemed quick to condemn
No sooner had I heard these words escape my lips and heard the reaction that I knew I was and would ultimately be, misunderstood.
But perhaps I can reason it out just a bit for my own clarity and others.
I have a very specific notion of morality. Of right and of wrong. Some are based in ideology, some based in logic and pragmatism.
I quite simply have issues prescribing such definitions by nature of an act, and not it’s consequence, and a desire to understand the difference.
Drugs. Conspicuous Consumption. Sex with multiple partners. Theft. These are all things one may or may not be apt to prescribe as bad or evil. And in some cases I would be likely to agree. But not by the nature of the thing so much as by the harm it are bound to cause, and the lack of consideration bound to surround it.
I am more than ready to condemn any act that is deigned or apt to hurt another. Behavior that is inconsiderate, cruel and thoughtless is, in my book, a problem. To use an example: sex with more than one partner, if it constitutes betrayal, lying, or if it is bound and guaranteed to hurt and confuse gets the big red mark in my book. Sex, with many people and the connivance of all included does not, necessarily though.
Likewise, the use of chemical substances is not a bad and wrong thing necessarily. Nor is the trade of it. And I am not alone in this (heck we have pharmacies) But how the substance is used, controlled, what impact it has on the persons life, what the trade and laws that affect this trade have on society: those are open for judgment.
It’s not the act, it’s the sentiment and the consideration.
But see, for some it is not. I was watching a TV show the other night designed to convey family values and I listened to father-son talk laden with religiously based zeal condemning sex out of marriage. He was very clear that sex was, in this situation, just plain wrong.
Some would be bound to agree, others would laugh at this sentiment. Once upon a time it was sinful to show one’s knees at the beach and in certain societies it is evil to show a woman’s face in public and eat cows.
My point? When deciding what you will judge and what you will condemn, it is important to discern what values are based in notions of sin, and what in notions of propriety and harm.
And yes, the line is fuzzy and foggy and contrived and convenient. And sometimes that is even a good thing. Conservative action when protecting others can be a fine and dandy thing.
I am not suggesting that all notions of right or wrong need to be wholly logically based or devoid of religious rhetoric. I am just encouraging people to think about how they know what they know and why they feel what they feel.
Examine your notions and discern where you idea of “wrong” came from. Is it an ideological construct based in religion? Fine. Than know that, but do not expect that all of your ideals are based in logic.
Is it a framework of laws and decision designed to minimize harm, protect the innocent and ensure fair treatment and maximum positive opportunity? Then know that too.
But confusing the two can lead to unfair condemnation, righteous paternalism, and a really annoying level of self-denial and deception. Not to mention more stress than is good for anyone.