Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Moral Grounding

Are we  a people who have lost our moral grounding? Do we no longer have a concept of right and wrong? Have we turned right and wrong into something that only relates to out own religion or political party? There are so many examples right now of this seeming inability to comprehend moral grounding.

When some Americans ignore or worse try to justify what the killer of Trayvon Martin did, do they really have a sense of morals? Or is it all party and partisanship? I was shocked to hear Geraldo Rivera try to blame the killing on wearing a hoodie. Does he have a clue that teens and preteens all wear hoodies. My 13-year old granddaughter likes them. I wear them. He said it was as much responsible for the death as the shooter. Frankly that is as nuts as what Hannity said when he said it might've just been an accident. It's as though they were busy trying to come up with excuses for a murder.

The latest, on a less major scale, is a new football scandal. Some would say football is just a game. Really? It's more than that. It's another place we show our morality. From where does our belief on what is acceptable behavior in ourselves or others come?  Is it in childhood where winning is everything when someone teaches that it doesn't matter how you did it? As The above article says, this wasn't just about coaches but also players who knew what had been offered and said nothing.

The ability to use logic and come up to conclusions that fit actual facts seems to be lost on more and more people. I saw this as a headline on Huffington. This guy is a billionaire, whose wealth started at $4.1 billion when Obama took office and now stands at $10 billion but can he identify what socialism is? Comprehend how government works? Not so far as I can tell. And what happens to anybody but him is obviously not of interest to him. Guys like this one believe they can buy elections. Are they right?

This 80 year old clearly doesn't know what socialism is. He appears not to get how our system of libraries, public schools, police and fire departments,  highways, food inspection, and military are all government programs that citizens decided they wanted-- you might say democratic socialism.

The new health care system would all be through private businesses; so isn't the same as Medicare because the insurance is not government but private companies. The VA has government doctors but Medicare does not.  I have a feeling that he gets ALL his news from Fox and Drudge which means he doesn't have a clue what's really going on in the world, other than his wealth accumulation. With friends like Rove, he won't be finding out.

Back to my topic, I suspect you first get moral grounding from parents. It's the first line and then in schools where, in my generation at least, you were taught right behavior. Your friends reinforce that-- if your friends have sound moral principles. But if they don't, they confuse the whole thing.

So when those football players saw each other thinking it was okay to accept a bounty for hurting players on the other team, it reinforced their own concept that it was okay.

When I went looking for a definition of morality or morals, it came down to right conduct. But what if you think right conduct is cheating for a good cause?  What if it's sucking your profits from other people? Who defines right conduct? Some would say it's religions, but I have known too many religious people who do things that hurt and cheat others for me to buy religions really teach that. More they teach how to get away with it-- you confess and go on. You pray to God to fix your problems and help you avoid consequences.

Religion actually confuses someone for deciding whether someone is moral. You look at a candidate like Rick Santorum who claims great religiosity, then you look at the actual words of the one he claimed to follow, Jesus, and you can only shake your head. His morality has come from his religion, not the one who began it. If his religion lost its way morally (and all religions have at one time or another), then he's going to be following a false morality.

Personally, I think the easiest way I can imagine to find moral grounding is through the old saying-- walk a mile in another's moccasins. Some people have a very hard time even imagining what others feel; so it's not easy for them to do that. It doesn't do away with the concept of tough love either. If we just think about a very simple concept which is called the Golden Rule, it's easy to understand. Treat others as we would like to be treated.

Another good one from religion which seems to be overlooked these days-- judge not lest ye be judged. Too bad more Christians who call themselves by that name aren't more aware of the actual words of the one they call the Christ.

Lao Tzu had some excellent things to say on the subject of morality-- Lao Tzu on the Tao. 

Usually we know someone with moral grounding when we see it. We recognize they are the kind of person whose word is good and they are living their truth. We admire that or maybe I should say did as today it seems living a lie is admired by too many. If it wasn't, how do you explain people voting for Romney despite the lies just because he got wealthy. It seems they have a vague idea that his money making ability will rub off on them. It might if they are already in the wealthy class.

The problem of a sliding scale of morality might be from where you got your sense of moral order. Does it enable you to shoot down an unarmed youth? Massacre 16 civilians? Attempt to break arms in a football game? Live in ignorance because you feel secure there?

The following is a quote by Lao Tzu, which might seem a contradiction until you think about it for a bit.

Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice,
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won't be any thieves.

If these three aren't enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course.

At first is sounds as though it contradicts everything I just said about morality. But then when you look deeper, it is saying the right way of behaving is within us-- not through obsessing on words. When we depend on a system (a government, religion or philosopher) we accept their system. We live by the rules with no sense of why and that leads us to disobey them at will.

Instead, what we need to find is what is within us and within us will be moral grounding. We don't really get it from our parents, our community or our religion. We get it from slowing down, taking time and looking within and from considering that very ancient concept which if more people lived that way, this world would be a better place. The Golden Rule is in 21 different religions [Unification].

do unto others as you would have them do unto you
the rule of reciprocity
We are all one. When one is harmed, all are harmed.
When one is helped, all are helped
what goes around comes around
mind the three-fold law--
three times bad and three times good
(which means live and act as though what you put out,
you will get back-- multiplied)

 It would simplify understanding moral grounding if more followed the Golden Rule. Or if those claiming Christianity, thought a bit more on what it means.

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