Day 324. Right? Wrong?

I think a lot of people associate the notion of “morals” with sex.  Maybe not so much anymore, but there was a time.  And not just in the Victorian era, either.  Life moralssure is different these days.

Lindsay Lohan declines to wear underwear; and for some reason, we have to know about it.  Everyone from Rob Lowe to Kim Kardashian has gotten their thrills by sharing their sex tapes with us (ugh!!!).  Presidents have screwed around publicly.  Prime Ministers have had sex with underage prostitutes.  And right in our own backyards teachers are having sex with students, and on and on it goes.

Looks to me like our moral fibre is unravelling pretty rapidly.  We’re on a downward spiral.

But, of course, morality isn’t confined to sex.  It comes into play with just about every decision we make.  Or don’t make, as the case may be.  It’s got to do with our standards.  Our conscience.  Our ability to differentiate between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.  ‘Good’ and ‘bad’.  It’s how we treat others, how we conduct ourselves in business, our ethics.  Integrity.  Honesty.  Honour.  What we stand for.  What we believe in.

More areas where we could use some help.  And here I’m thinking of the likes of Bernie Madoff, Paula Dean, David Petraeus, Rupert Murdoch etc. etc. etc.

In yesterday’s WordPress Daily Prompt, Michelle asked these questions:  “Where do your morals come from — your family?  Your faith?  Your philosophical world view?  How do you deal with those who don’t share them, or derive them from a different source?”  

Good questions.

So where do they come from?  Okay.  I’ll go first.

It started with my parents, obviously.  They instilled their values in me.  Not by beating it into me with a stick.  Yes, of course it was a subject we discussed.  But mostly, I learned from how they lived.  From the decisions they made.  From how they behaved.  They showed me, in other words.  And of course, whenever I had questions they always had answers.  They were my role models.  And damn good ones they were.

My parents discriminated against no one.  They treated everyone fairly, and with respect.  An individual’s religion, race, creed or financial status meant nothing to them.  They cared only about what kind of human being they were.  My parents were principled.  When my father gave you his word, on anything, it was as binding as the most complex legal agreement.  My parents, and theirs before them, put in an honest day’s work.  They never cheated or lied.  They were generous, kind and charitable.  They gave back.  My mother volunteered.  While they were not conventionally ‘religious’, they did worship at the alter of “do unto others”.

They gave me my moral ‘foundation’.  A good and solid place to start.  The rest was, and is, up to me.

They also brought me up to respect the rights of others, who might think differently.  Who might have their own beliefs.  Who might have their own ideals.  Who might have a set of values unlike mine.

They also taught me to listen to my better judgement.  That while everyone is always entitled to their own opinions, I shouldn’t succumb to pressure.  I shouldn’t feel forced to do things, or say things, or act in ways that felt wrong to me.  That made me uncomfortable.  That I didn’t agree with.

Lucky, lucky me.  I had great teachers.  Wonderful guides.

What about you?  Who gave you, your moral compass?

16 thoughts on “Day 324. Right? Wrong?

  1. Loved that! Yes – I also learned from my parents -our parents sound so similar – my mom volunteered and taught me to treat everyone equally no matter what their background etc and my dad was the most honest – highly principled person whom everyone admired.
    I learned everything from them –

  2. I just love to hear stories of those that cherish the example that their parents set for them. I would say my Aunt and my father were my biggest influences. My parents divorced when I seven and I was abused while in my mother’s care so there was no moral foundation when it came to her, her behavior or lack of care but when my aunt (mothers sister) saw my tears she spent time talking to me, instilling in me what I needed to build a foundation of own. I spent a lot of time with her when I was growing up and talk with her weekly still. My father was the same way. He was a lot like the way you described your father but I wasn’t able to spend much time with him until I was a young adult. I will say this though, every time I did see him when I was growing up, in every conversation, he planted seeds that brought me to the person I am today. I love your post, thank you for sharing.

  3. You are right about the parents. Good or bad they have an influence. I had a close friend who was a little loosey-goosey about morals — would allow a cashier to give more change than should be, didn’t point out errors in her favor but squawked when they were not, walked out of a store with stuff — not a lot but occasionally. When I met her mother I understood it all. We drifted apart (I don’t like jail) and I often wondered if she ever got her boat righted on the straight and narrow or just brought up her children to cheat whenever they could get away with it. Similarly we have a column in our local paper called “On the Cheap” with tips on how to save money. Someone wrote in that you should peel your bananas in the store so you don’t have to pay for the peels. Really? First off it’s wrong, second, yuck! I wondered why the paper even printed it.

    • I think whoever wrote that tip has slipped on one too many banana peels 🙂 And I would have dumped that friend too.

  4. Another great post Fransi, My parents, Grandparents, uncles and aunts instilled very similar beliefs as yours – we were turned out well grounded thanks to them – it’s hard to know how the next generations will fare, there is so much “evil” being preached they would have to be really well grounded from birth on what is right and what is wrong, this is not to suggest that they are not clever enough to know how to walk the straight and narrow.

    • Thank you. As for the next generations all we can do is hope. There IS so much evil out there. Although several years ago I had a former client who wanted to start an environmental not-for-profit for real youngsters — ages 7 – 12. His thinking was so fabulous and so exciting I told him I HAD to be involved. It is a very long story, but we had a focus group of sorts. We got on a group of about 35 kids from all walks of life, from both private and public schools, from wealthy, middle class and poorer neighbourhoods — and talked to them. We got a friend’s son, who is a teacher, to be the facilitator.

      You would not have believed how smart, how knowledgeable and how much of a conscience those kids have. We were agog! The eldest in the group was 12 at the time and already an environmental activist with 2 trips to the Antarctic under his belt. He was late to our session because he was speaking at the Science Centre. To adults. Using a PowerPoint presentation he wrote.

      So I am placing a lot of hope in that, particular generation. I sure hope I’m still around 20 years from now to see them in action.

  5. Lucky me too. 🙂 I think coming from a somewhat diverse background gave me a certain sensibility about the differences between people but as far as a moral foundation I have no idea really where that came from, except maybe the times? I grew up modestly and “secular” so can’t point to a pedigree or religious foundation either. I think I did find examples where I could of people doing the best they can and latched onto that.

    Thought provoking question thanks!

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