Sunday, April 17, 2005

Why be moral?

The Heart of Service is in a real sense an ethics course. Morality consists in agreed upon tenets by a given group. That's why we can speak about Catholic morality or Jewish morality, Christian morality or even American morality. Morals are a set of standards for behavior generally agreed upon by a group, and often membership in the group is dependent upon adherence to those tenets. Certain groups, like the Anabaptists, are famous for shunning, the practice of publicly booting the immoral from the community. Other groups do this, though perhaps in less explicit ways. Catholics "lapse" themselves--they just stop going, for instance, when the incongruity of their own choices and those of the moral community of the church no longer match enough to justify participation, the sense of hypocrisy having become overwhelming. Likewise, folks create identities for themselves based on their adoption or inculturation into a community's morals, so that it becomes their way of being in the world. Out of this arise notions of us and them, us being those who share a particular set of moral sensibilities, and them being those who don't.

So if morals are the rules and ways of being in the world by which a group defines itself behaviorally, and by which an individual identifies hi/rself and h/ir community membership, then what is meant by ethics? In common conversation, nothing different is usually meant by morals and ethics. In the academic world where I whiled away the third decade of my life, however, they are usefully distinguished. Ethics is the discipline of questioning the reasoning behind a moral position or outlook. If morality says do this and not that, ethics asks Why or Why not. Meta-ethics, to get really fancy and University-of-Chicago-esque, asks "Why be moral?," an even more general question then the particular inquiries into moral issues of ethics as such. Now I can say that The Heart of Service is a meta-ethics course without you thinking I'm off my rocker, because you know what I mean by it.

Why be moral? is a very good question! Having spent a while with you over the last number of posts adding concepts to the initial model of self mastery, and arriving at our six-pointed star, I believe we can come to a tentative answer to the meta-ethical question "Why be moral?" which could work for anyone regardless of particular communal/moral identity. That's because it is based on universal law, basic inalienable structural principles of this place we call home. Why be moral? Because to be moral is to be who I am! To overlook the laws of the universe in the expression of my free will ultimately curtails my free will and places limit cycles upon who I am to the point where I forget myself, and am therefore not myself. When I choose to buck the tide of universal law, I enter into cycles of control and victimization which preclude the possibility of the fullest experience of who I am as a master of self and servant of all, in friendship with the source of all. So, to be moral, in this sense of freely choosing in a manner coherent with the divine will-pleasure and the universal structure, enables me to be and experience fully who I am.


Post a Comment

<< Home