On a scale of 10, my moral code is a 10. i believe in a person having good morals. i look at it this way, if i do not do it, no one else should do it. but, you have to remember that i am 66 years old and i see things in an entirely different light, than most younger people.
I have a strong personal code of ethics and morality which include zero tolerance for dishonesty, duplicity, disingenuity, sexual infidelity, and double standards.
I believe everyone and everything is perfect, in the sense of whats needed for every individual to learn and grow from their mistakes, but, I also believe in keeping company with like minded types that value their own integrity above all else.
Great question… some of my friends and I were discussing this not too long ago, and I’ve actually been on a bit of a personal quest to consolidate my own moral code of late.
I tend to go out of my way to accommodate the needs of people I love. I’ve lost hundreds of hours of sleep and gone through a great deal of suffering to make sure that my friends were okay when they had problems. I’ve never once asked for, or even expected anything in return.
I had a dream not too long ago that I climbed to the top of a mountain and an ancient man told me that if I ever get as old as he is, I should have lived my life not like the ever-changing ocean waves, but like the mountain, and I should let the world climb atop me and rest in my valleys.
That really stuck out in my mind, and I remembered it in the morning. A lot of my friends tell me that I get “walked on” by my other friends and family, and that they are “taking advantage of me.” This dream I had just reinforced what I always believed about myself: That I’m meant to be a stoic altruist. I strongly believe that even if everyone is just taking advantage of me, and even if nobody ever thanks me for staying up all night listening to them cry, or driving for hours to talk to them when they are having an emotional breakdown across the state, that I should keep doing what I do anyway. I believe that it isn’t worth the risk to not help them, because if they are taking advantage of me, and I take the time to let them, nothing of value is really lost, but if they truly do need me, and I’m not there to help them, then I have failed.
So I will try my very best to be like the mountain and unflinchingly do whatever the people in my life need to keep them happy and at least give them a smidgen of peace or relief when they need it. Couldn’t the world use more dauntless listeners anyway?
My moral code is based on “the path of greatest good”. In other words, when I decide on the relative moral impact of a situation I figure out how many people will be hurt (physically or emotionally) by it, and how badly, and what benefits are caused. I then compare that with the harm and/or benefits caused by any of the alternatives. And usually, the winning choice is the one that causes the least harm and/or does the greatest benefit to others.
When Aleister Crowley coined the phrase “Do as thou wilt”, he did so with the interesting exception “Love under law”, meaning that love was acceptable to preempt morality. So in modern times it might be “Do as thou wilt or as thy wife tells thou”.
Above all else do no harm, from the Hippocratic Oath I believe is a foundation to my moral code. Funny, as I thought of the question I looked more at how I formed this moral code more so than what my code would be.
Since my background is more from the streets, my morals are created from really odd circumstances and happenings in my life, without religious context or parental guidance.
For example; Thou shall not steal. I was Five or six years old when I took that can of cashews from the local corner store one beautiful spring day. Only took about 10 minutes to eat the entire can (they were sooo good). An hour or two later I got sick to my stomach really bad and went up to my room. Around the same time(could have been days later but not much later). My grandfather stood at the top of the stairs and said to his wife “I think I am going to be sick” and his liver exploded (from cirrhosis) and he bled out of every orifice in his body as he fell down the steps. It was later that week that I met dad and life kinda changed a little. Maybe if? I know that ridiculous but…..
@crazyivan The whole Crowley quote is “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law: Love under Law, Love under Will.” I take this to mean that Love (for one’s fellow human beings and for the world as a whole) should be the foundation of the will, and act as a framework for the Law (moral code).
I generally just try to always be honest… whether that means offending people or not is a different matter, and one that I don’t care about. Also, in a school with a bunch of silly little 12-year-olds always pestering people for months about “do you fancy so-and-so”, it’s quite nice and refreshing to say, as soon as they ask you, “yes, I do like Emily, what difference does that make?”. Honesty is the best policy, especially in cases like that.
I’m not religious at all, but I do believe in the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. For me, that means; I do not kill, I do not steal, I do not lie, I do not cheat and, unless asked, I do not tell others how they should live their life. I will help my fellow man whenever possible even if that means paying higher taxes to ensure public health and well-being. I will always work toward the greater good. As long as people make an attempt to respect my personal beliefs, I will respond in kind. If anyone chooses not to respect my beliefs or if they insist on projecting their political views or their own morality onto me, I will respond in kind. I will never start a fight and I will never run from one, and if I am provoked, I will most definitely finish it.
@Rufus_T_Firefly Good point; I used to be Wiccan due to a number of circumstances at the time, and part of the Wiccan Rede was “An ye harm none, do what ye will” which is rather similar to the golden rule you quote above.
I’m a human animal and behave as such. I try to interact with my landbase in such ways as to reinforce the biodiversity and overall health, because otherwise I’m not respecting the other creatures and fulfilling my responsibilities to their communities that I enter into by getting subsistence from them. I’m also living in a culture that makes that hard, since it’s basically based on exploiting humans and non-humans without giving back appropriately, and doesn’t maintain biodiversity. Therefore I simply try not to give any more support to corporations and other groups that exploit humans and non-humans than I need to.
In the end the best morals are the ones that make you feel genuinely good and happy about yourself and that you can live with. If you encounter a hairy situation, deal with it morally, and can sleep at night, you’ve got good morals for yourself.
The end justifies the means, but the passage of time is in itself a series of ends. Therefore any act must have only positive effects to be considered moral, or its negative effects must be insignificant enough that they will not be remembered the next day. A little harm generally outweighs a lot of good.
1. Some things are always wrong, and there are always consequences for doing them.
2. Treat all people as you would perfer to be treated.
3. Give generously, but without any expectation of any return.
4. Love God with all your strength and might, and love God’s creatures and creation without reservation.
5. At the end of your life, it will be the service you have rendered, not the things you have accomplished nor the money you have accumulated, which will give meaning to your life.
Im with @Austinlad . Live and let live.
I also like some quotes from various people and scriptures (and no I’m not religious) like this one from the Hadith al-bukhari:
It is incumbant on us as true spirits to act when we are faced with injustice. Ideally if you are witness to injustice the best way to fight is to stop it physically with your hands. But if you are too weak in spirit then you the next best thing is to stop it with your tongue and if you are still too weak then at least hate it in your heart.
@FireMadeFlesh It seems to me that we already know what the right thing to do is, in nearly all circumstances. We then spend time rationalizing why we shouldn’t do it. Granted, there are times when it is less clear. At those times, I try to do the least harm.
@augustlan Granted, few people need to be told not to kill, (although the so called justice systems of the US, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the like need to be reminded), but moral codes generally agree on such clear cut cases anyway. People tend to disagree on less obvious issues though, such as abortion, taxation, welfare, conscription etc. While a specific moral code isn’t necessarily required in most situations of daily life, I think it is important to have a code to refer to for the occasions when you will be presented with a more challenging issue.
@FireMadeFlesh I do see what you’re saying. It boils down to a few core things:
Ideally, one’s actions should be for the good of mankind. Realistically, one is free to do whatever one wants, as long as it doesn’t harm another. In cases where harm is unavoidable, choose the path that does the least harm possible.
The really tricky part is deciding what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘harm’. Good people are known to disagree about that. I’m perfectly clear on it in my mind, but have no real idea of how to articulate it in a brief synopsis. Someone should make a questionnaire! ;)
Act utilitarianism states that, when faced with a choice, we must first consider the likely consequences of potential actions and, from that, choose to do what we believe will generate the most pleasure. (from your link).
Except, I don’t think of it in terms of “pleasure”... more like “well being” or even “greater good”, whether it applies to an individual or a society. For instance, sometimes my children have to be made to do things they’d rather not do… study for a math test, maybe, or be disciplined. That certainly won’t bring them (or me) pleasure, but will serve them well later in life. On a societal level, consider the Civil Rights Act. That didn’t exactly please a large portion of Americans, but it was still the right thing to do for the greater good.
@augustlan GA. I don’t like utilitarianism’s use of the word pleasure either. Theoretically we could put every person on a drip of endorphins and anti-depressants – it would make people experience maximal pleasure, but it would be far from ‘right’. That is why I generally refer to evolutionary principles in discussing ethical/moral issues, because I think survival ability is a more important goal than pure pleasure. Our pleasure/displeasure responses usually react to what helps/hinders our survival, so in effect it is a more fundamental version of a similar concept.