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Something to Think About
[ Issue 118 Page 10 ] Wednesday, November 21, 2012, 16:48:36 Yoo Hee Kang yoohee1222@kaist.ac.kr

There are moments in life when the world you believed in feels unbearably strange; crimes occur at frequent rates and people walk by heartlessly without giving a glimpse at a road-killed pigeon. Though its warmth is still there, life no longer remains, and though it feels like the clock has stopped, people walk by busily as if there is something more of importance to them. They go to work, do their ordinary work necessary for survival, and one day, also face the fate so cold and heartless.

We are so occupied these days with matters that affect our lives at the moment that we have turned off not just our feelings to sympathize, but also our sense of morality. It might not be a bad idea to spend some time to have a careful look at what moral standards (not just moral principles) and values we hold in this time of chaos. I believe that morality is subjective to an individual but is absolute for that individual, irrespective of time, place, and circumstances. It is perfectly reasonable to have moral standards set by the society and what the majority of people would agree with, but sometimes we really need to be firm about our own personal moral standards. It is not a matter of stubbornness or unwillingness to accept other viewpoints; It is not a matter of what is right or wrong; It is not about drawing the arbitrary line between what ought to be and what ought not. It is about being faithful and holding onto our personal values and beliefs as long as we continue to exist; It is about coming close to discovering the absolute values we hold within ourselves. This is important because they are, in most cases, the set of values that define who we are, or at least contribute to a whole lot of who we are. Your moral intuitions may go against the ideal moral theories and standards set by the society, but it does not imply that you are wrong. In fact, once you lose the grip on your definition of morality, you would be giving up the truth within yourself. You would be giving up something inexplicable, something much more than your moral values.

As well, morality should not be confused with your religious beliefs if you happen to have one. Religious aspects can be very deceiving sometimes: being faithful to God does not mean you are living a morally good life. In fact, what God often tell you to do (for instance, to forgive others mercifully and unconditionally) could possibly be the most inhumane thing one could do to oneself. Words of God tell you to simply forgive (without any consolation!) the murderer of your loved one, when it might go against your own moral values and perfectly normal human emotions of deep sorrow and perhaps, hatred. Though morality is not about sentiment, it can have an impact on emotions. In this example, you might believe that morality is objective in the sense that you believe in God, but there should be an absolute morality that you keep to yourself as a standard to find balance and protection from the agony caused by the two conflicting moral systems. Neglecting to define your absolute morality might not only disturb your emotions to the point where it gets unbearable, but could also lead to the loss of self-awareness. This would cause a distortion in life and leave you quite helpless. This is why there is a need to be sure about your own system of morality: you need a center. In other words, some may think that morality is objective, but there is a seemingly subjective yet absolute morality that they may not even be aware of, which might collide with the objective flow. It is dangerous to accept the objectivity of morality without questioning; you might end up believing it is your morality, though you will confront the discordancy sooner or later. The point is, there is no need to give up who you are to satisfy the want of God or to achieve some god-like value or the want of anyone else. There is no need to judge how others judge you; simply accepting the fact that there are different perspectives will do.

As human beings, we can reflect on our place in the world. We are aware, at least to some extent, of our existence in the world. The pigeon’s life mainly focused on survival, but our life needs to spare some time to think about how to live. Why can’t we pursue the truth in life and good in itself? Maybe our death would not be as heartless and lonesome if we keep on searching for what makes us human, and I am sure morality is just a small part of it.

 

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