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Thursday, March 10, 2011

What if?

I’ve been thinking of the question of morals and morality. Who sets the morals we follow? Do they change over time? Is there some sort of moral etiquette to follow? Does morality matter much any more?

A few weeks ago I was researching my mother’s side of the family who are originally from Russia. Considering the royal family of Russia, the Romanovs, and indeed most of the population of Russia were devoted to the Orthodox religion, I found it surprising that the many bastards of the Tsars were not only tolerated, but almost welcomed. The Orthodox religion is very strict, especially on matters of sex outside marriage, but apparently the advantage of being born into the Romanov family was that one could have as many lovers and children out of wedlock as one wanted. So what happened to their morals?

I remember my German teacher in high school telling us stories of the hardships she and her family faced during World War II. She was quite serious when she told us she would have killed anyone who had tried to touch her children. If you kill someone in order to protect your family is it still a moral issue?

If you lost your job and could no longer make the repayments on your house. If you had spent all of your savings and there was nothing left and the only way you could feed your children was by stealing a loaf of bread, would you do it? Would you stop yourself from grabbing that loaf of bread because stealing was against your morals, even though your children would starve?

If you met a married man whose wife no longer allowed him in her bed or her life but refused to set him free, would you pursue him or would your morals kick in? What if you knew his wife was having an affair, would that change your mind?

Have you ever shoplifted or rode the bus without a ticket? Have you ever ignored someone who needed your help? Have you done anything to break your own moral code but somehow managed to come up with excuses that exonerated you?

I don’t think I’ve ever got on a bus without a ticket, but I have shoplifted. Many years ago as a young teenager I felt the need to take a nail file from a department store. I have absolutely no idea why I did it, but the adrenalin rush of getting away with it did nothing to compensate the guilt I felt. However, at that point of time I never thought of the morality of stealing. In fact morals never crossed my mind at all.

What about you? Do you think of your own morals before you make decisions? Do morals play any part in your life? Or is morality something you only think of when you are about to make a choice that might go against your better judgment?

9 comments:

  1. Morals are the code I live by... but then again, I am Catholic, so in the unlikely event that I did do something immoral the guilt would kill me!

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  2. You pose interesting questions - I say I would never break the law, but then I have. I don't have kids but can imagine stealing to feed them if I had to.

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  3. I sort of look at it this way: we are all part of one big thing, and so anything that harms any OTHER part is harming ourselves and our loved ones. When I was 4, I took a chocolate mint patty at a restaurant. My mom saw the wrapper and marched me back in and made me pay and apologize and I've never stolen a thing since (at the TIME, I thought 'no' was a 'no sweets for you' but I learned that day what stealing really meant)

    So I guess I look at who might be harmed... the loveless marriage, just stuck to for reasons I don't believe in... I'd prefer there was honesty about it, but yeah, I might cross that line, given exceptional circumstances. USUALLY though, there is somebody who would be hurt, and then I wouldn't.

    I don't really have respect for laws just because they are laws--I look more at whether the reason behind them is legitimate (usually it is, and then it's all good). That goes for government laws and church laws--I have more issues with church 'laws' than government ones. But I don't think that view makes me immoral.

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  4. These are really good points. This post really gets you thinking. For the most part, I take each situation on an individual basis. There are situations where following the rules need to be ignored. xo

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  5. I've said my whole life that being bad seems to be very easy and being good is something where an effort needs to be made.

    I mostly win at being good, but being bad gets in there at times.

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  6. Wow those are some hard questions! I probably would steal if it would keep someone I loved from starving!

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  7. I'm guided by my morals, often without thinking about it. I guess the times I do would be times like those you mention -- when I'm inclined to go against my morals for a reason that feels important enough.
    xoRobyn

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  8. I think when you're young you may make a few foolish choices, but like you, too much guilt. I would never, ever have anything to do with a married man, There are plenty of fish in the sea.

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  9. Luci - I understand, but the Romanovs were Orthodox a religion which vies with the Catholic Church for strictness and guilt - so where were their morals?

    Anonymous - my points exactly!

    Hart - that reminds me of the time my mother took me back to the fruit shop to apologise for the grapes I took, except the lady there had given them to me! My mother just never believed me...

    Marnie - I agree, sometimes we have to ignore the rules.

    Deborah - I think we are all like that!

    gayle - me too!

    Robyn - I think we always have decisions to make, sometimes they are subconscious and sometimes we have to think about them.

    Mrs Tuna - I'm beginning to think age doesn't matter when talking about mistakes, but I get your point!

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