What do we understand by morality? Is it by the book or by our heart? One of the earliest conversations when this blog was coming up (in my mind) was with a professor who teaches ‘Ethics’ at a girl’s college in the New England area. She is in charge of teaching a course to freshmen year about ‘ethics and morality’. Conversation with her over a piping cup of chai with another dear friend was very frustrating at some level but enlightening.
In her class, she wanted to drive her students to the point of inherent morality, which exists irrespective of external rules. So the dialogue in the class goes like this:
Professor: Suppose, you have a car and you have a chance to steal it when no one’s looking. Would you steal it?
Class: No. Perhaps there would be police at the next traffic signal or the car would be traceable?
Professor: Suppose if there is no police and no way to track the car….
There is a pin drop silence in the class. Everyone is looking at each other.
Class: Of course we would! Why would we not?
My dear friend did try to steer the class towards their own conscience and what would it do to them if they stole the car. However, these were not toddlers. They surely have been taught about morality early on. The college was also under a religious fold and hence the expectation out of the students to have ‘inherent morality’. But is morality that inherent though?
Multiple concepts of morality zoomed into my mind as I grasped this information. Is one’s morality for oneself or for others? Does morality count when no one’s looking? Unfortunately, in today’s life, we tend to think about morality and values through a set of rules. If the rule maker is not watching, the morality doesn’t count! Now, whether we believe that rule maker is police, our society or God, it depends on us. Either way, our morality comes out of fear. So, if the rule maker is absent, our morality goes into the shit hole! Will you say so?
However, if one can look at morality more through what our conscious would feel if we do a certain thing, we can probably build our inherent morality or values our own way! Some say, ‘moral integrity is the cornerstone to our humanity’. There isn’t a need for a set of rules. Just our introspection over a cup of chai.…….