Make Morality Your Own

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Growing up as a child, teenager and young adult, I have never been very religious. My family and I would occasionally attend church, pray before meals and celebrate every religious event but yet waking up every Sunday morning was never a must. With this said, I still fully believe in our Creator.

I believe my sense of morality was informed through my upbringing by my parents and family. They taught me what is morally right and wrong and from that I was sensible and strong enough to believe in who and what I want to be.

I use the word strong because many of us have good upbringings yet our choices we make as individuals are out of our parents/caregivers control and we let outside influences change our behaviour. What keeps my morality informed is my individual perspective of what is morally correct and incorrect.

           

I believe that all behaviour stems from a powerful belief system. Through my research on this topic, this was assured by Mr Farouk Radwan, who has his MSc in Psychology, as he stated, “With a positive and powerful belief system there is no limit to what you can achieve in this world.”

As I mentioned above, the relationship between morality and professional behaviour comes from oneself as one grows and learns for themselves, what is morally correct and incorrect, apart from what they believe and should follow.

Lawrence Kohlberg claimed that “without judgment, an action, no matter how beneficial, would not be moral”.

From the 1920s to the 1950s behaviourism was the dominant paradigm in psychology and it was assumed that teaching children moral virtues and social norms of their culture makes them moral. It was not until Lawrence Kohlberg first published results from his follow-up study of the development of moral judgments that it was more widely acknowledged that even children have their own morality and they make moral judgments which are not internalized from parents, teachers, or peers. Consequently, according to Kohlberg morality is constructed by the person her/himself.

 

I find the question “is it possible to be perfectly ethical?” very intriguing because I am sure most professionals would like to know that they are practicing in a perfectly ethical way. We also know that to be “perfect” in anything is impossible yet aiming to be the best and most perfect we can be is possible.

I came across a blog from Lori Bedell which I found to be interesting and made me understand how unethical we can act on a day to day basis, apart from the work place. It read:

“  Obviously, anything produced by people who are exploited and abused is unethical.  Anything that degrades our environment is unethical.  And so some of my choices are clear. In an all or nothing scenario, however, there are some murky areas where I feel I’m a bit tied down.  Is it realistic to investigate every purchase I make or store or restaurant I patronize?  I suppose it’s possible…And then there’s the matter of opinion or values of varying weight.  For example, some would argue that it’s better to buy local than organic.  Some would argue the other direction.  If I buy clothes at a second-hand store but those clothes were still made in a sweatshop somewhere, am I immune from responsibility?  I kind of think, “No.”  Here, my values will be differently ethical from someone else’s.   ”

With that said, it is evident that as individuals, what we see as ethically correct and incorrect varies. So being perfectly ethical is impossible. However, becoming close to perfectly ethical for yourself according to your own morals and beliefs is achievable, hoping of course, that your morals and beliefs are ones that others would dream of following.

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5 thoughts on “Make Morality Your Own

  1. Hi Charde. Really nice post. You’ve covered a lot of ground in your writing and you’ve clearly put a lot of thought into your piece. I notice that you talk about a belief system and it’s impact on your behaviour, which is 100% correct. But, you don’t talk much about the nature of the belief system. Most people in the world would use religion as the belief system that they use to frame their behaviour. However, if I generalise the belief system and say that it doesn’t have to be religious, you can actually raise very challenging questions about the nature of belief, religion and behaviour. Do you have to be religious to be good? Or, do you simply need to have a different framework that happens to align with the tenets of most religions e.g. it’s better to not kill each other, it’s better to not steal from others, etc. Do you need to have a god watching over your shoulder to be good?

    I’m not sure if these kinds of questions were in your mind when you were writing this post, but that’s what occured to me as I was reading your work. Thanks for a stimulating read 🙂

    • Thanks Michael, interestingly enough, those questions did cross my mind as i was writing my post. I feel that you do not have to be religious to be good. Whatever you believe in, or even if you do not believe in anything, there will always be something telling you inside what is right and wrong. Believing that we all have morals inside of us and a human connection. A belief system just “enhances” your moral behaviour.

      • I’m not sure that I’d say religion “enhances” moral behaviour. That would imply that a religious morality is “better” than for example, a humanist morality. I wonder if you mean that religion provides a framework to better understand morality?

        If I’m a moral person but need guidance and structure to help me, it might make sense to be able to go to a book and say, “Look, here is the command that tells me how to live a good life”. It’s a framework that gives structure, but it’s not necessarily better than other frameworks.

        What do you think?

  2. I agree with you, there seems to be this moral variation, all very relative wrt context…. And I do believe that ones personal morality should not influence ones professional duty as a health care provider. Our judgement is uncalled for and creates a barrier between patients and ourselves, impeding authentic human connection. Great post!

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