“The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.”
– C. K. Louis
I have a friend who is struggling with a crisis of faith right now. One of their biggest concerns is how to come to a better, and new, understanding of sin and morality. She doesn’t know where to turn and is getting advice from every angle possible. This situation has prompted me to write about what I think on the whole subject.
First off, we’ll get sin out of the way super fast. I think that sin is a ridiculous idea that gets in the way of morality. It’s a convoluted collection of supposedly steadfast ideological concepts rooted in morals subjectively set over a long period of time by a multitude of writers who all applied their own version of morality, of which was governed by the mindsets of the particular time and place they lived.
I know, I’m an evil atheist. I’m totally incapable of morals, or the only reason I have morals is because God is forgiving enough to grace them on me though I’ve turned my back on him. Of course, both of those ideas are bullshit.
If it doesn’t come from God, where does it come from?
The real, solid, scientific answer, insofar as I know? I don’t know. Personal opinion? I think it is a combination of innate traits found in social creatures such as ourselves, current regional and world moralistic perspectives, and what makes us feel good.
So then, what is morality Ivy?
Morality is a subjective, finicky, insanely gray-scale, nuanced pain in the ass to navigate. Though there are some over all ways to make it a little more simplistic as a whole.
Don’t do anything that is going to harm yourself or someone else.
Humans are social creatures, like all other apes. We absolutely require each other to survive. We can see this necessity through the accidental research studies known as the cruel and unusual punishment of extended solitary confinement. People start losing grip because they don’t have interaction with other humans. Even the most violent, inward, cruel, people hating person needs to at least have people around, even if it’s only in the background.
Since we are such social creatures, we find ourselves ingrained with the need to take care of, at the very least, our immediate tribe (such as family and friends).
The interesting thing with this one is that while it is generally good thing to follow, most people would agree that it is not a finite unbreakable rule. Self defense is probably the single largest acceptable way to break this rule. While the idea is that you do every thing you can to just get away and cause no more harm than necessary, it is acceptable to murder someone if it is the only way to keep you and your surroundings safe.
Then there is the ultimate moral guideline:
DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE
It really can be that simple. If you learn you’re being an asshole, fix it and move on. Learning it is part of the nuance, and it’s never fun to find out, but the worst thing you can do is some equivalent of telling the other person/people to fuck off, and continue to do exactly what you did before. If it makes no sense to you why someone is upset by your actions, then have a conversation, try to actively understand why, don’t just throw the offended party under the bus.
I think morality, at it’s absolute simplest, is how we best take care of everything and everyone around us. If you are working to make someone else’s life harder, you’re being immoral. If you are actively harming others, you aren’t being moral.
Be kind, do no harm, and leave things better than you found them.