On the question of morality

So this question is making the rounds in my blogsphere, and I’m not one for passing up a good question.  This “Provocative Question” is brought to you by Fandango.  This is the first of his questions I’ve answered, we’ll see what future questions Fandango has for us. For now, onto this question (with a little help from Photoshop):

So, I’ve touched on this question before (see link), but I’ll talk about it again because why not? Anyway, here’s my answer, the long and the short of it.  Morality is completely, utterly, and totally subjective.  In my humble opinion. What we find moral and immoral is a construct of the society we live in — whatever society you, dear reader, live in has agreed up on as a general whole that this is good and that is bad.  So to speak. And these moral boundaries change all of the time.

Take sex for example. In some societies, sex before marriage is considered immoral.  And some religions consider sex for pleasure immoral — sex should only be for procreation according to them.  And not to long ago in my own country (the United States) sex before marriage was generally considered immoral. Today in the USA we can have sex whenever we like without being judged as immoral.  Well, some people will still slut shame women for liking sex. I’ve seen it on my own niece’s Facespace to my regret. Today though, slut shaming is more tied to jealousy and bullying than it is to morality. True moral high ground isn’t as prevalent as it used to be. There was a time when a woman who was “defiled” before marriage may as well die because she was considered damaged goods and no longer marriageable.  My point is, this “moral” compass point is completely subjective depending on place, time, and (for the most part) gender.   

Another example: euthanasia. For some cultures, religions, and societies, death is bad. It it the utmost evil which is to be avoided at all costs. It’s the end of everything — even though for some of these religions there’s a promise of everlasting life and paradise. Which has always confused me, why fear death when your faith promises you peace and paradise? I dunno. Anyway, this means that killing in any form — except for specific circumstances I suppose (war and animals for eating) — is just the worse. So a person lying on their deathbed wishing to die cannot make that decision, and their grieving family can and often will opt to keep them alive and in pain.  Because it’s considered immoral to kill someone before their time. Whereas in other cultures, death is seen as simply another part of life — the next step in the journey.  They don’t run from death, but they don’t embrace it either. So to kill someone who is already dying isn’t immoral, it’s a kindness. Especially if that person wishes it. I might be a bit biased on this point…

As to who is “correct” and who isn’t. When one is talking about subjectivity, there is no correct answer.  That’s the point when you’re talking about something that is subjective.  In my society, we have mores and beliefs that most people in this culture live by. Are they “right”? Eh, we get by. As I said in my last post about this, I don’t agree with what a lot of what my society says is moral and immoral, but I go with the flow.  I mean, it’s okay for men to have sex with anyone they want, but not for women? Screw that noise. It’s immoral to kill, but fine to kill in the case of war. It’s fine to slaughter livestock for food every day of the week, but hunt a lion for sport, and the madding crowd that is the internet loses its mind? People’s morals are weird — and fluid.  I have my own moral compass, and I stay on the sunny side of legal — though as I’ve mentioned many times before legality and morality are not synonymous, but they are kissing cousins. Especially in the United States.  I live and abide by the Golden Rule which seems to weave in and out of most belief systems which states basically — Do to others as you would have them do to you. It’s a pretty simple rule to live by. That and this one: So long as it doesn’t hurt anything, do what you will.  Which is more difficult than you would think. 

Just for fun, and completely as and aside: I was messing in Photoshop the other day and made this. It felt fitting to put it here. It’s not directed at anyone in particular. I was just messing about.

Not you, personally.

15 thoughts on “On the question of morality

  1. Melanie B Cee

    This is the third of Fandango’s “Provocative Questions”…his first “If you were the opposite gender for 24 hours..” and the 2nd …well that one’s not sticking with me as much, but it was pretty interesting too. Good take on morality. I think the consensus is that morality is subjective.

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  2. Marleen

    Somehow, Willow, you have reminded me of scenes in “Angels in America” — well, it doesn’t hurt that you have a picture of angels as concrete. But… now I have to look it up. Like when one guy is talking to the powerful attorney who is so impressed with himself and insists he’s not gay (because he’s a dom, not the type he looks down on). He dies, of course (or curse). Roy Cohen (a real life person). Lack of empathy. That’s right.

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      1. Marleen

        Is that a response to me? I can’t see who else it would be a response to, so I’ll just try to clarify. I liked “Angels in America” (sorry if you didn’t — or didn’t see it or whatever is the case). I don’t know why you thought I was accusing you of not having empathy; I was agreeing with you about empathy (also agreeing with the show [play/movie] about empathy).

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        1. Willow Post author

          Yes I was replying to you, and it was the wording of your response that made me think you were accusing me of lacking empathy. I’m sorry if I misunderstood you.

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    1. Marleen

      I spelled that wrong. The person (in real Washington D.C.), of McCarthy fame in the fifties (but who died in the eighties), was Roy Cohn (not Cohen).

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  3. Marleen

    The last person who retorted to me that “everyone dies” was a very-very religious person. I’m going to have to take note that no one wants to hear about death.

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      1. Marleen

        There is an element of angel statues in “Angels in America” — have you seen the movie or the play? I think your picture of that sort is what first made me think of it. But there is also a droll discussion of heaven and hell (and Roy) in another scene. Roy was a very judgmental and controlling guy. I don’t know; maybe I misunderstood by thinking you agreed with the picture and the statement that not knowing right from wrong involved needing more empathy.

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        1. Willow Post author

          I’ve never seen the movie nor the play, so I have no idea what you’re talking about. The picture of angels was meant to be amusing, and has nothing to do with anything else in my blog post.

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