Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Operation of Morals
Through the Law of Eleven and Seven, all of our actions are reduced to the direction of 18 words of guidance. We have derived the Ten Commandments largely from those eighteen words, and have seen that the Ten Commandments are completely logical, and are thus good. But what about morals? What are they?
I choose "part d", from the current on-line definition of "moral" from Merriam Websters dictionary to expound upon. That definition is: "d : sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment". I choose this definition, because morals are an individual responsibility and an individual judgment. One may stray from the guidelines of the commandments at times as an individual choice because all conscious beings have self-will, but nothing can make an individual perform a certain way, except his or her own personal choice.
People sometimes opt to do something that is clearly advised against by the Ten Commandments, (such as infidelity to a spouse or mate), simply because they want the self-gratification that they crave at that particular instant. While the Ten Commandments forbids such activity explicitly, the Law of Eleven and Seven does not. The Law of Eleven and Seven says merely to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If a man or woman felt such strong lust as to enter into an extra-marital affair, then perhaps they would believe that it was alright for their spouse to do the same thing if the conditions were reversed. This is an internal question of morals that must be decided by the individual. Infidelity rarely has a positive outcome, but sometimes it might, as in the case of two people who are completely mismatched, and then find more suitable mates elsewhere, or a few other instances I can think of that might play out to the advantage of one or both of the individuals in a marriage or committed relationship. I generally advise against it, since the odds of it turning out for the best are usually slim, but it is a completely personal decision that must be decided by the individual. Whether it is morally wrong is a personal matter, best decided by the parties involved. (As a side note, there are many reasons why such a decision usually never works out, the largest one being that dishonesty usually is involved in the process, and dishonesty can never be accepted or tolerated in a logical system. Very few people who commit acts of infidelity do so openly or honestly. Most try to conceal their affairs and will lie to do so. Lying is never acceptable, and that byproduct of infidelity makes the act reprehensible, since it destroys trust in a relationship and poisons the intimacy that makes such close personal relationships very rewarding.)
There are much more serious moral issues in life, that cannot be immediately divined from the Law of Eleven and Seven, and which need the most sincere contemplation by individuals in order to decide that which is best. As an example, let us look at abortion.
The Law of Eleven and Seven, and the Ten Commandments both say no to abortion, because murder is always wrong, since it violates the rights of the individual. But abortion is a decision where the morals of the individuals involved must be relied upon to help to decide the best course of action. While it is always wrong to murder an individual, what about where an individual has very little chance at surviving anyway? What if the parents cannot afford expensive life-preserving techniques that would become necessary to keep a severely deformed baby alive? What if this is determined early on during the pregnancy? (Note: I will always use the term baby, since fetus is a sly trick to dehumanize the miracle of birth.)
What if a woman is brutally raped and becomes pregnant; should she be forced by morals to give life to the baby of the criminal who raped her? It is a well known fact that some criminals are genetically defective. The child might inherit the father's criminal tendencies. Not to mention the fact that every time she would look at that child, she would be reminded of the circumstances by which it was conceived. This would be a very delicate, personal decision, and would depend upon the mental constitution of the mother.
Any abortion, no matter how soon after conception is a murder of the individual that would develop, should the pregnancy carry successfully to term. However, sometimes the rights of the unborn individual cannot be protected without violating the rights of the individuals who are the parents. So it gets very difficult in some circumstances to say what is best. Since the parents are the individuals who came together to conceive the life, and since their lives may be very adversely affected by a complicated birth, or having to care for a severely handicapped child, it may be best at times, to rely on their judgment as to whether or not the baby should survive. That said, the idea of allowing a baby to develop to a viable point of survival, only to have that baby then murdered by a late stage abortion, seems so onerous that most people feel that the rights of the unborn baby should at that point be protected by law. However, killing a less-developed baby is still a murder of the individual that it would become. It's easy to see why doctors call such babies fetuses, since that makes their murder more palatable.
Morals have to be relied upon, when a judgment is not easily reached. This is why it is so important that we each have our own well-developed sense of morality, and that it is not just some knee-jerk reaction to circumstance. There are many decisions that are not easily reached, even with the guidance of our most basic laws. Deciding when we should allow nature to take its course and let someone die, can be every bit as hard as deciding whether to let a baby live. It is therefore imperative that we communicate clearly with our loved ones so that we get a strong sense of what they would want to happen, should it not be left up to them as to when they will die. Who pulls the plug, and when, is an incredibly difficult decision, and it must be guided by morals and the best judgment of those most intimately involved.
Morals allow such decisions to be made as best as possible, and they guide us in times of duress or tragedy. They help us make split-second decisions during life-threatening situations: Should we enter a burning building to save a life? Do we need to use deadly force when attacked by a criminal? Is it wrong to profit from a particular set of circumstances? The list goes on and on.
We often do not have the luxury of time in order to evaluate rapidly changing circumstances, so our morals are an established blueprint that help guide our decisions. This matrix of morals is the overlay which guides our conscience, and by definition, conscience is: "the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good".
Such is the operation of morals, to help guide our conscience.
Finally, in some of the situations cited, one moral question that always needs to asked, (especially in deciding life and death), is whether the individual should even be responsible for the decision. The baby that was effectively murdered by the choice to terminate a pregnancy, may have gone on to find a cure for cancer, or have become another Einstein, or maybe it would have just brought happiness and love to a couple who could not conceive on their own. And even as far as handicapped babies, who ever really knows how they will fare? Many premature babies or babies with severe birth defects have gone on to lead productive lives. So it should be understood, that whenever individuals make decisions of life and death, they are effectively playing the role of God. Perhaps, in many such situations, it would be best to leave such decisions to God (or fate, you choose the word or belief that best suites your personal view of the universe). When we choose to intervene in such circumstances, we must ultimately bear the responsibility and consequences of our decisions, and even moral, intelligent people can never really know all the consequences of such life and death decisions.