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?