The last time Jorge was in town, we again chatted about how to fix our broken world. In particular, Jorge wondered how the nation and the world are going to become more aligned and harmonious.
We have both observed that a relatively small percentage of the population is obsessed with a strict type of morality. They seem to be unwilling to discuss hot button topics in any but an uncompromising way. The religio-political tensions in the US and the world have become painful. Like the strings of a guitar, not enough tension nor too much tension cause disharmonious sounds. Careful, mindfulness, regarding all people involved, provides for harmonious relationships.
Jorge noted that moral conduct is conduct by a set of arbitrary laws while ethics is conduct by an inner sense of what is fair and good, discovered after much observation and contemplation. When an institution attempts to impose a strict set of morals onto people, the masses must obey out of fear.
When people abide by fair, egalitarian ethics, we are strong. Many, not all, of the criminals or “sinners” are those upon whom morals have been forcefully and rigidly enforced. On the other hand, ethical conduct doesn’t mean abandoned, lawless behavior. Ethical behavior is undertaken because someone has a sense of justice and tolerance. You might say that ethics provide a more human, humane type of morality.
I noted that moralists possess spiritual pride. They self-identify as better than others and pride themselves on their self-righteous speech and behavior. Meanwhile, ethically based people take a more realistic approach to good behavior. One might say ethics are more closely related to the law of Karma, or the Golden Rule. Treat others with the respect you wish to receive in return from others.
Jorge agreed, “Blunt morality creates disharmony; fair ethics create harmony.” The authors of the US Constitution did not have in mind a nation based upon moralism. Fair, egalitarian ethics are the basis of law in this country. They recognized that strict moralism quickly leads to tyranny, but ethical behavior fosters fairness and freedom.
I mentioned that civilized life requires mutuality in an imperfect, disharmonious world. Ethics provide the best way to give people confidence and strength to overcome the cruel obstacles that appear in everyone’s life. There is no need to gain special advantages against others by using moralism as a bludgeon to “keep people in place”. As a rule, we detest injustices committed against others. We understand that if unfairness is imposed upon minorities, unfairness can be imposed upon the majority.
Jorge added, “Blowback…what goes around, comes around. Moralism just doesn’t feel innately right.”
It’s important to consider harmony versus disharmony when we make choices and decisions that affect other people. Disharmonious moralism causes pain and suffering. Ethics are more essential in helping us decide empathetic, compassionate choices. Moralism may appear to be the easiest option, but we must use our inner wisdom to instead ask ourselves if this is the best option for everyone concerned. The harmonious, ethical option brings the greatest benefit for everyone concerned, especially on a deeper level.
I mentioned that people and situations aren’t always what they appear to be on the surface. We all must periodically examine our opinions, beliefs, motives, personal values, and options. Are we judging ours and other’s through the eyes of a moralist? Perhaps we need to pause and employ the power of compassion to sincerely understand how our actions affect the lives of people who are like us and not like us.
There will probably continue to be plenty of disharmony in the world at large. We can use compassionate, empathetic ethical thinking and behavior to create harmony for ourselves and everybody with whom we come in contact.
Jorge said that eventually we each take our turns in being in the position we once forced upon others, so we need to treat others with respect and kindness.