I am really stuck this week on the idea of morality. Not in the sense of God like or Judeo-Christian morality but in this idea of reward and punishment. It seems like people choose to do things just to satisfy themselves without regard to whether it is right or wrong. There is a certain point when people decide to follow a specific moral code as in the Judeo-Christian model of 10 commandments, and certainly society chooses to place a code of morality on people sometimes in the guise of religion but really it has nothing to do with the ordained word of God (headscarves or mini skirts for example). I find it odd that when I think of moral codes of behavior they all seem to be geared towards women. Men are pretty much able to dress how they want, don’t have to wear make-up or color or alter the curliness or straightness of their hair. Some do choose to do this perhaps the metro-sexual. But at least in the USA women are expected to alter their appearance for the pleasure of men. Which by the way I think is kind of sad, but here I sit barely able to see because contacts make me look more pretty than my thick glasses, mascara enhances the length of my eyelashes, foundation makes my skin less red, properly shaved legs and tightly squeezed into a Spanx which makes me look thinner. Not that any man is looking (she said bitterly).
I think on how it is to be the person I am. When I was little I got in some pretty big trouble over some things that my brother did just for that purpose. I was punished for things I did not actually do. I am really over it on a pain level, but I think it altered how I view punishment. It doesn’t really work on me. Later the relentless teasing at school made me not really concerned about what others comments might be towards me. It has taken a long time to get here but I realized that I am a good person no matter what people may say about me. When people stand in judgment of me and want me to change the way I dress or the color of my hair, or how I carry myself I now find myself asking what is in it for me to change? Is it for MY benefit or is it for someone else’ s benefit? Criticism and someone pointing out what I have done wrong only makes me resentful and angry, particularly if it is someone else’s judgment of what they think is right or wrong. I have learned to be my own judge of correctness. And I would say that most of the time I have it right.
I am finding that words mean absolutely nothing to me any more. It is actions that speak to me. It is action that tells me the truth. Words carry nothing but lies, manipulations, criticism, and praise but for what? Why would I listen to praise when I know it may well be an attempt to manipulate me once again into doing something for someone else. I am not a selfish person, but I realize now at this late date in my life that most people are. Why is it my responsibility to meet someone else’s needs? Only my child can ask that of me. And since she is a grown adult at some point she will begin to meet her own. IF you want to tell me something, show me. Tell me with your body being in close proximity to me, tell me with the change of your actions so that I can see the truth. If you tell me I I will listen, but I will not believe until you show me. I am seeing pretty clearly despite these miserable contact lenses, and the manipulation of words won’t work on me. But do people actually believe the lies they tell? Do they realized that lies are manipulations? Why do we value honesty? And in the end are any of our politicians actually speaking any kind of truth? I told a class yesterday not to trust what they saw on the internet or what they heard on TV, one asked, not even the news? I said no not even the news. Really there is no trustworthy source of information out there anywhere. I find that I cannot trust anything anyone says unless they have solidly proven to me that what they say is true, and even then, I have learned, even then an accomplished liar can deceive.
What of morality as far as sex and the female role in our society? One day a coworker went on and on about how single parents are ruining the world. I was quiet until about the last 5 minutes of the class, and then I quietly told her that I had been a single parent for my daughters life, and even in marriage raised her with little help. I told her my daughter was 6th in her class, and a well behaved and decent person. I told her quietly that her judgment of single parents was a prejudice and she might want to rethink it. I have to say in retrospect, I am not sure women actually need a man to raise children especially as I look at all the men who do whatever they want without regard for their families, their children or their wives.
I also think about the Earth. I want to preserve it and take care of it, and treat it as a steward, others see dominion (dominance and destruction) as the proper way. The whole global climate change debate ultimately ties into this idea that some have that it is our God given right to use resources until they are gone. I once had a Jehovah’s Witness tell me he is using every thing he can because it is God’s will that the Earth should come to an end and we will all be called up into the Kingdom of Heaven. The oil companies and those organizations whose main goal is to get as much profit as they can with as little expenditure as possible willfully destroy our planet in the name of progress. I find it morally reprehensible but do they? Obviously their morals say money is more important.
I realize as I am writing this and then later thinking about it, that the issue has to come up: How do you know when your moral compass is pointing in the right direction? I have no answers, I am pretty sure that in general mine does, I don’t really want to delve too deeply into what I believe because I want to understand what is the thing that makes me believe I am right where others may be wrong (the gay rights vs. gays are abominations argument for example). How do you know your moral compass points in the right direction? How do you begin to recognize that perhaps your values are not right? Most people choose to do the “right” thing out of fear of judgment, or punishment. Some do the right thing regardless of punishment, just as others do whatever they want regardless of the consequences. The question I have is this, is there anyway to get us all to agree on some basic morality, some basic concepts of what is right? Can we all agree that lying, cheating, stealing and causing harm to others to get what you want is okay? And if not why not? And another question is this: why do so many cultures call for male domination? What right do men have to dictate to women what they should do or not do? How they should look, what they should wear? Why do women do what men tell them to do? When did someone decide that a woman getting pregnant, giving birth and raising the child on her own is somehow a sin against God? Why do some people want to preserve and protect the Earth while others just want to use her up until it is gone? Why do some people feel that lies are acceptable and others think the truth no matter how painful is more important than whatever your lie protects?
And in the end will humans ever get it right? Will we just muddle through until the Earth is gone?