(definition further explained in this post if you still aren't satisfied)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Cost of Morals

"I'm gonna break your face!"

This is probably what my younger self would say to me if she saw me now.

When I was younger, I never thought that I'd put up with injustice.  To "let bygones be bygones" is one thing, but it's another to let people do things that are blatantly immoral or illegal (or both) to you.  Through the eyes of a child, when everything in the world looks more black and white than in shades of grey, there's no reason to allow things like this to happen.

But then...the bills need paying, the professors need a good impression of you, and the landlord needs to be kept happy.  You find yourself sucking up to people or doing more work for less pay or letting it slide when a superior insults you, because you know that it will cost you something that you need to continue your lifestyle if you don't, like that good impression or this month's rent.  As an adult, you begin to feel that letting your morals slide is "just part of how the world works".

Is that really how it has to be?  Does a person have to lose everything if they operate based on their principles?

There are supposed to be laws set up to protect the underdogs, like the employees in an employer-employee relationship, but they often "cost" a person even more than the above-mentioned sacrifices.  Lawyer's fees?  A lost job (and in this economy)?  The continued battle for a court date that the employer can afford to put off, but you can't?  It's easier for a person to let these things slide or fight it at their own meager level of influence, even if doing so could still costs them decreased pay or losing their job.  The justice system, although it seems well-meaning, simply isn't a practical option for lower or middle-class citizens (which includes the majority of people).  Even laws meant to prevent unfair practices aren't carefully enforced, which means they rely on this "I'm telling on you" system of lawsuits that most people can't afford.

And without the justice system as an option, the average person is left with one choice: to give up their personal sense of justice, or to pay some high price for keeping it.

If the younger me had known the price that morals come with, she would definitely think twice before making that choice.  I'm still not sure which she would choose.


Cheeseboy said...

Yeah! My kind of gal. You take no crap. My wife is the same.

Not the Hero said...

I wrote a philosophy thesis on fluid morality and how it is actually a good thing. Rigid morals/believes cause a lot of tension and strife in life. When compromise wouldn't hurt anyone, but keeping your morals would, it makes sense to loosen the grip.

Ethics however area a different story all together.

Morals tend to be personal belief whereas ethics are things understood to be universal rights and wrongs.

I don't know if I helped or not ... probably not, oh well.

Logical Libby said...

I find my morals get more fluid, especially now that I have a kid. I know that sounds weird, since it should make me more moral, but it makes me want to protect and care for her at any cost.

I guess I will rethink things once I have to start teaching by example. Or at least be sneakier.

See, the moral slide!

Deidra said...

Cheeseboy--Thanks! I take that as a high compliment.

Not The Hero--Interesting. You've not only taught me about the difference between morals and ethics (which I used to think were interchangeable), but you've also gotten me to thinking about when the ability to compromise a bit on one's belief system could be quite helpful. Thanks for your insight!

Logical Libby--That's unexpected...I assumed that parents would develop stricter morals if anything, since they have to be examples for their children (as you mentioned), as well as the fact that I would expect a parent to see the world quite differently and pay a lot more attention to right and wrong than a non-parent would. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Your point totally makes sense; I just hadn't thought of it that way before.