Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is Morality in the Eye of the Beholder?

To give the quick answer to the question posed by the title: yes.  My dictionary defines morality as "conformity to the rules of right conduct".  Regardless of whether or not universal truth is something you ascribe to, our perception of the morality of a situation is mutable.  Since everyone agrees that we humans make mistakes, our system of morality is also subject to mistakes -- and to a lesser extent, it is subject to personal perceptions.

The woman in the previous entry has every right to condemn my actions as amoral.  From her perspective, condoning alternative sexuality is a very grave act.  While it is true that my position is that she doesn't make the most reliable judge due to her own actions (also a grave act in her belief system), that doesn't directly preclude her from finding me reprehensible. 

I would have hoped that several steps ago she would have noticed that she was heading towards a position that might undermine her argument.  We all know how much easier it is to judge someone other than ourselves: actions seem quite plain when seen on the tableau of someone else's life and existence.

It's difficult to write about being judgmental.  After all, I basically spent the last entry poking fun at their relationship, after setting it up in the context of an affront to my own morality.  Does that mean there's room in my morality for mocking people behind their backs?

To that very incisive question, I have no good answer.  The simple reading says that I too am guilty of hypocrisy.  My only qualified answer is this: I do not make fun of people who leave room for doubt.  Had the two people mentioned previously each come to the independent conclusion that they were not happy in their current lives, decided to make changes and break relations with previous partners, and then found a new life in each other, I would not make fun.  In fact, I'd probably congratulate them on their desire to change and the force of will to make scary alterations to their lives.  I'm certainly not striking for change that far from MY personal comfort zone.

Doubt is one of the most powerful senses we have.  It's what help us to decide if we're about to do the right or wrong things.  It's what makes it possible for us to change our minds.  We even take doubt into account when deciding criminal sentences. 

What offends me is the presumption that anyone can continue to make forceful declarations about other people's morality, even after showing themselves to have been untrustworthy in love (where we tend to be our most trustworthy -- or the opposite), love being as close as we're likely to get to a "universal morality".

Had my acquaintance shown a hint of contrition or care, you would have had no play from me today.  The entry would have been about something more generic, such as whether or not treatment of homosexuality is an issue governed by "morality".  

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