Ethics Part Three: My Response To The Prior

I’m starting a series of posts on ethics. This series will feature several parts, with an ultimate conclusion featuring a comprehensive response to my four years of undergraduate school at a private, conservative university.
Your participation and responses are encouraged. It’s not as enjoyable if I’m only talking to the wind.

The following is my response to the previous post. Some might call it a cop-out. Call it what you will, this is what I have come to understand to the best of my ability over the past several years of wandering.

Over the past few years, I came to understand that much of life is much more gray than the black and white facade I had believed. I watched as one pillar after another fell to dust, revealing the cruel truth hidden behind a lie.

“I ate civilization. It poisoned me; I was defiled. And then,” he added in a lower tone, “I ate my own wickedness.” -Excerpt from Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I had been sold an idea, and I have spent the last several years divorcing myself from that bad investment and my own mistakes that followed.

I ran into the questions I posted (and numerous more) and found I had no answers. I held all the right questions, without any of the answers. In the span of a few years, I fell from a platform of certainty to the precarious rock climb of the great unknown. For all the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual distress, I found a deep truth when I fell. All the things I thought I knew stopped being true except one: love.

To say I have been cynical over the past few years would be a hilarious understatement. Cynical is something that middle age men become when they wake up and realize they were wrong all along. I lost every single shred of my world construct. Cynical? No, I was broken. But through all that, I noticed one thing never changed: love.

Separate much of my up-bringing from its Christian roots, and it loses meaning in the sunlight outside the church building. Except one basic, almost too-simple, truth: love.

Even in a world without religion, without any God, love still holds a fundamental position in social functions. Without anything else, people can be united by that simple four letter word this world has so grossly confused.

Murder is wrong, lying is wrong, stealing is wrong are just lifeless statements. We don’t need these flawed “absolutes.” I fear people spend too much time arguing over the peripheral details and miss the idea underlying these social and moral rules. 

I spend a lot of my time talking about love, but the love I speak of isn’t the stomach butterflies, the personal attachment, and emotional rush. That’s not the kind of love I found.

Peal aside the stereotypes, the prejudice, the bias, and stand a group of people next to one another. Despite what we’ve been taught, we’re all the same. You and I have traveled different paths, but we both are struggling through the same human experience in pursuit of fulfillment. We’re nothing more than slight variations of the same organic organization, environmental background, and psychological experiences.

Now, this isn’t a popular concept, but the moment we realize this any justification for prejudice, discrimination, and social injustices suddenly disappear. We are all human beings apart of a global community that is becoming increasingly connected. The natural reaction following this perspective is an appreciation for other individuals, and the blooming of an inherent duty to carry one another.

I believe this moral duty to one another, regardless of the details, is a basic characteristic of every human being, but in a culture of individualism and consumerism, we’ve buried this under layers of lies and misunderstandings.

“We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.” –Fight Club

Let’s turn the conversation from abstracts to concrete answers.

I have built my life around a relative understanding because love cannot be defined in discrete lines.

Yes, murder, lying, and stealing are all wrong: these view the victim as a person to be abused for personal gain. An individual devoted to the well-being of others would avoid violating them in these ways. Are there exceptions? Sure, but the litmus-test is unselfish, unconditional love.

How this unfolds outside the theoretical construct is something I’m still contemplating, but given the nebular nature of this worldview, I anticipate it isn’t something that can be implemented in a defined way. Rather, this is a code of conduct that must be assumed on an individual basis, adaptable to each person’s set of circumstances. However, just because something appears insurmountable is far from a valid excuse for not trying.

So I have rejected this archaic, rigid view on morality. Instead, I’ve chosen a more vague, but ultimately more effective approach. I may not be correct; I know there are holes in my thoughts; I will likely evolve behind this thinking years from now, but this is me and this is the best understanding I possess. In the end, I’m striving for perfection. I’ll never reach it, but that doesn’t lessen the drive.

Aim for an impossible goal and you’ll never reach it, but you’ll be better for it at the closing curtain.

“One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world will be better for this.”   -Cervantes

This weekend will feature the closing conclusions to this discussion as I provide a discourse of the past four years.

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