Morality is a set of rules that defines what good and wrong is. As I dig deeper, I come to an interesting conclusion that morality is very much influenced by the time in history, the place and the level of our spiritual understanding both on an individual and global level.
Women of ancient Crete walked with their breasts exposed in public and it was as normal in their time and place as today wearing jeans is. Minoan culture was accepting of the fact that the breasts were an attribute of a healthy woman and didn’t view it as inappropriate. Today, a nursing mom at a mall might be asked to cover up as the sight of the baby at her breast still offends many.
The Japanese Samurai understood loyalty and honor differently than we do today. They would fight to the death in a hopeless battle to protect their master’s honor, or commit suicide if they felt they had disgraced their lord. Samurai were only following “The Bushido,” the warrior’s code of conduct. Today we would argue whether a suicide is an act of honor and loyalty or not.
Ancient Spartans didn’t want to have anything to do with ill and unfit babies and routinely threw them from Mount Taygetus or abandoned them to die. To a modern man such a behavior is unacceptable and we deem it as barbarian and unethical.
In our times we choose to donate our organs to those in need, a huge no-no in the ancient Egypt where the body of a dead person was embalmed and preserved to ensure the spirit could live on forever. The Egyptians would most likely be appalled by our practice.
Time and place matter. Our standards are dictated by fashion and politics and juxtaposed against society’s morality canon. Only when majority sees certain virtue as favorable it is then welcomed to the pantheon of the morality standards. Throughout the history these have been very fluid. In the times of Hammurabi things looked different than today. Which brings me to say that there is no morality per se. There isn’t ONE set of rules that defines what good and evil is for the entire human race till the end of time.
So does that mean that we, as human race should not have any standards to be measured against? Does that mean that we should go on killing, robbing, cheating? That’s not what I am trying to say. However, accepting the standards at face value without ever reexamining them leads to stagnation. Moral rules should be there in place for us to refer to them but it is our job, on a personal level and as a society, to reassess them and look at them through the lenses of each new experience.
Each of us evolves individually as a soul and as a part of a group of souls at the same time. We grow though our experience, love and pain. One way to see our individuality and beauty is through the mirror of the society. What we do with our life is set against the backdrop of our culture. Only that way we can define our growth, self-actualization and self-awareness. Yet we should never adopt self-limiting and narrow-minded view of the world based on what majority thinks.
Some of the norms that were put on the pedestal of morality are not relevant today. Not long ago same sex marriages were illegal. Interracial marriages were frowned upon. Women smoking cigarettes were considered dangerously provocative. Clearly, with our society advancing in so many ways our consciousness transcends the old and somewhat ancient rules of conduct. Which leads me to say that most of the moral issues should be addressed on an individual level, weighed in our heart first and foremost. Ideally, we should have our own moral compass that evolves as we grow.
When it comes to morality we humans are often very judgmental. I found out that in most cases when judgment is involved and the person’s morals are scrutinized it is because we don’t know the underlying causes of the situation, we have not walked in that person’s shoes. Most often we aren’t aware what circumstances and forces are at play. When we condemn with the highest level of cruelty and intolerance it is then when we haven’t resolved our own issues. I am not a Christian but I find an extreme level of humanity and logic in words of Jesus, “Whoever is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.” Angry, hurtful words cut deeper than a stone. They also cause a negative ripple. Words are energy. Each one of us carries shame, pain and guilt for the things we had done in the past and would rather had not. The only way to overcome the guilt is to forgive our own self and learn from the past. Judging without knowing one’s personal journey and the circumstances is never a good idea. Compassion and kindness lifts people while judgment divides. Tolerance and love rather than arrogance serves higher purpose.
*Disclaimer: Written under a heavy influence of rock music and chocolate