Social Question

ninjacolin's avatar

Would it be Moral to keep information private that you believed others could benefit from?

Asked by ninjacolin (13817 points ) February 2nd, 2010

“Keep your religion to yourself!”

Many people have this opinion. I’m not one of them.

Religionists who vote (eg. for anti-abortion laws or for god in the classrooms) or who share (eg. JWs or Mormons or any Missionary) their opinions with others are people who are convinced that they know something unbelievers are unaware of. Also, they believe that teaching their opinion is for the benefit of others.

Regardless of whether their beliefs are accurate, their beliefs feel accurate to them. Is it reasonable, then, to expect such people to keep quiet about their beliefs? Is it reasonable to expect such ones not to try to convert others?

Why should someone who believes they have beneficial and useful information for others keep that information to themselves?

What is the appropriate means to disseminate such information? Is it moral to adopt a “wait until asked” principal?

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21 Answers

pat's avatar

Morality is subjective, so your question is meaningless. Only you can answer it.

ninjacolin's avatar

:) nice, but i wasn’t asking you to answer it for me, i’m asking you for your answer(s)/opinion(s).

pat's avatar

You asked if it was “moral” like it was some objective truth. Oh well… it’s not really reasonable to expect christians to shut up about their beliefs, no. And If you have information that you think others could benefit from i believe you should tell others about it. But, if they don’t want to hear about it, then you should shut up and respect that they don’t want listen to you. Pretty simple. Or?

ninjacolin's avatar

thanks for your answer. curious though: what if they don’t want to listen, but they learn something they like inadvertently when the christian fails to shut up?

I submit that moral questions like this one are best answered in this way: “Yes, because…” or “No, because…” You then attempt to show why it fits/fails your definition of morality. Because so many people have different definitions for what is/isn’t moral, I wanted it left open.

also.. the only objective truth is that truth is subjective, per mind, per moment.

belakyre's avatar

If you believe in something that others don’t know of…how can they ask you about it?

wundayatta's avatar

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. It is reasonable to try to provide the information, but unreasonable, a waste of time and insensitive (if not immoral) to push it after they make it clear they don’t want the information.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@belakyre, no one is that unique; there is nothing new under the sun.

“They always shoot the messenger.” It’s best to kept it to yourself, until asked.
Perhaps that’s why Fluther is in question format?

DrBill's avatar

You should freely share with others, but sharing does not include forcing it on people who don’t want to hear it.

once people know you are willing to share, you have done your job, forcing your opinion on others will do more to drive them away than anything else.

Pandora's avatar

So your primary question, is it moral to keep it to yourself.
No, not if you truly believe your information would be to another ones benefit.
However, it does not give anyone license to disrespect some elses belief. There is a difference between informing and trying to ram your beliefs on someone else. Even if you coerce someone into agreeing with you, it would not make their beliefs true.
It can be moral as well to adopt a wait until asked if you feel the person who you wish to share the information with isn’t going to listen to what you have to say.

sakura's avatar

There is a difference between sharing your ideas and beliefs and forcing someone to believe them. I don’t agree with people who believe their opinons/beliefs are better than someone elses (especially religion) and then be-little or criticize the otehr person for their beliefs.

Fyrius's avatar

The world is a bit more complicated than that.
If you have beliefs that you know others disagree on, and you can not very convincingly substantiate those beliefs beyond any reasonable doubt (rule of thumb: this is NOT your situation), then you would be dishonest to think of these things as information at all, rather than personal beliefs. You would be narrow-minded not to take into account that other people have other beliefs, and presumptuous to take it for granted that yours are better than theirs.
It would be immoral to present your beliefs to others as if they were factual information. In my books that would be on par with lying.

If you would really believe beyond doubt that your beliefs can help someone who disagrees with them, then yes, I suppose the right thing to do would be to tell the other person about them. But if you are in this situation, something has already gone horribly wrong.

Perhaps it’s too much to ask of religious people to admit to themselves that what they believe is maybe not absolutely certainly indisputably true, but if religion is to survive in the third milennium, the religious urgently need to learn this.

P.S.
I realise it’s hard to be consistent about this policy, and what does and does not count as “very convincingly substantiated beyond any reasonable doubt” is hard to tell by non-arbitrary standards.
I consider it beyond doubt that common descent in biology is a scientific fact and evolution is the only presently known way it could have happened, and I consider it beyond doubt that astrology is a load of bunk, homoeopathic medicine is just water, and the earth is not flat. Other people disagree with me on these things, but I still think they are indisputable facts. And I will tell what I know about these things to whoever doubts them.

I’m not sure whether that means I’m a hypocrite.

Cruiser's avatar

The moral fabric of our country is seriously eroded and IMO we can use all the moral restructuring we can get but as with any message there is a time and place. Like Pat said, morality is subjective and that message comes in many flavors, shapes and sizes.

All too often zealots feel ordained to change this world to their liking and that only aggravates me to no end. Say what you feel you need to but again if I choose not to listen then allow me that choice. I am smart enough to know what I need out of this life and know where to get what I need to feel good about my life and my contribution to this world during my time on this planet.

cbloom8's avatar

It probably changes between topics, but where ideology, philosophy, and religion are concerned, I think it would be beneficial to withhold your opinions and thoughts simply to refrain from creating conflict due to differences between two people. I know as an atheist that I don’t want to get into it with religious folk because I don’t want to fight. Agree to disagree and accept differences in others – that’s why I don’t preach.

wundayatta's avatar

I used to go door-to-door selling ideas. I would actually get people to pay me (well, not me personally, but my organization) for these ideas. They were political ideas and I believed they would benefit the nation with all my heart. They taught us to go through three no’s before giving up. We had a rap—at least an opening, anyway—and the point of the rap was to get your foot in the door—sometimes literally.

In the first part of the rap, you introduced yourself, your organization, and why you were at their door. In the second part of the rap, you sketched out the idea and asked them if they had any experience with the issue. If they did, you asked them to explain. This allowed you to tailor your rap to their specific interests.

Often times, you’d get an “I’m not interested” right after the first part, but you’d plunge into the second part, anyway. If, after the second part, they took issue with you, you had to make a judgment as to whether this was an issue you could successfully take on. If not, you thank the person and move on.

If after the second part they were completely uninterested, you’d move on. If they were still neutral, you might try another argument. If, after the second part, they were interested, you’d move onto the third part of the rap: asking for a donation.

If after the third part—the ask—they were willing, you’d ask them to get their check book and suggest an amount. If they were interested, but unwilling to give, you’d try to find out why, and if there was something you could do, propose that. If they gave you the third “no,” you should get out of there.

Except sometimes you had spent a lot of time in part two, and once you’d invested that time, you didn’t want to lose the sale, so to speak. So you might make a high risk move of keeping on. This was when you ran the risk of annoying or insulting your “customer.” There can be a fine line between keeping the idea to yourself and pressing it too hard.

These days, I’m on the other end of that dialogue. Generally, when someone comes to the door, I know exactly what they’re selling, and if I like it, I cut them off and go get my check book. I don’t care about the rap. If I don’t like it, I also cut them off. I know how to say “no” with sufficient gravitas that they know they will get nothing more out of me. If they’ve been trained properly, they’ll move on.

Most canvassers (and telephone sales people, for that matter) rely on a certain level of politeness in the customer. People are generally unwilling to be impolite to a stranger, even if you are stepping over the boundaries of politeness. Sometimes this is a form of blackmail. People will give you a token contribution just to get you out of their doorway.

Canvassing taught me a lot. It taught me how to structure an argument. It taught me how to customize an argument on my feet. It taught me how to know when to drop an argument and leave. It taught me how to be serious when I ask for something. When I became a field manager, it taught me how to train and manage people. It taught me how to be a “company man;” to put on my “organizational head.”

Sometimes in life I have used these lessons, and sometimes I forget them. The last two are particularly troubling to me. I have always preferred to be independent, not toeing the line, but doing what I thought was best. This makes me into a person who sometimes produces stellar work, and who sometimes drags everyone down. It costs a lot to hire me (not in terms of money, but in terms of emotional energy), but it can pay off well.

When I started canvassing, I did not do well. I had a four day window in which I had to make “quota” for the first time. Quota was the set minimum where they could both pay expenses of running a canvas and send some to the organization we were canvassing for. I had not made quota by the fourth day came around. We were canvassing in apartment buildings in NYC, so there was the added complication of getting past the doorman or through the buzzered door (try giving your rap to an anonymous speaker) and of being chased by a doorman when some resident decided they didn’t want you there.

Typically we’d go in pairs. Once we got in, we’d go to the top floor and then take every other floor on the way down. If one of us got kicked out, the other would keep going as long as possible, while the first waited outside the building. It was fun running around the building trying to avoid capture.

I don’t remember that fourth day, but I do remember thinking, in the strongest way I knew how, that I would make quota that day. You know what? I raised exactly as much as I needed and not one dollar more.

Likeradar's avatar

I think it’s ok (I don’t think I would go so far as to say moral or amoral) to share what you believe. I firmly believe it is not moral (along with being annoying) to share your beliefs with even a tinge of “so therefore you should too” or “and you are wrong if you don’t agree” or attitude that so often comes with religious sharing.

ETpro's avatar

Sure. I believe patent law serves a redeeming social interest to promote development and invention. Not many individuals or corporations would invest the time and money it takes to discover a new wonder drug or new miracle form of energy is every Tom, Dick and Harry on earth, no matter how personally lazy, could just rip off their invention without so much as a thank-you.

DrMC's avatar

My silence is very immoral and I enjoy it. If you want to know what I think – then I might tell you. More likely I might tell you what you don’t want to hear.

As a matter of fact, if you want me to tell you that you better stop doing whatever the FxxK you are doing or you will die.. Your going to have to pay.

I am a doctor. I get paid to say things people don’t want to hear.

MagsRags's avatar

If actions speak louder than words, isn’t it more effective to share your beliefs by living them rather than talking about them?

ninjacolin's avatar

@wundayatta that was superb. You provided a set of moral standards from both sides of the matter, both the preacher and the proselytized. :)

i don’t know what to call that.. can we call that “sales theory”.. or “sales etiquette theory”.. haha, i too was a sales man for some time last year but i didn’t even think to associate that to this discussion. well done!

3 strikes and you’re out principal was how i was taught too.

@DrMC.. nice spin.

DrMC's avatar

@ninjacolin yes ninja – certain avatars get me in the mood – muahahahahah

candide's avatar

I think you should consult Machiavelli on this one

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