Lance Scranton: A conversation about meandering morality
Who doesn’t want to protect the planet? Show me a person who doesn’t care about the welfare of kids. Why would anyone not want to make their community a better place to live? Every person alive knows that life isn’t always fair or just. What kind of person would stand aside and allow an innocent animal to be abused?
Who could possibly think that intentionally stealing something from someone else is OK? We all have a moral compass, but ask well-intentioned high school students to define sin, good, evil, guilt, shame, reality, perception or vision, and it will generally require a 90-minute class to come to any kind of consensus about these seemingly simple words.
The foundation of our culture rests upon the belief that we all have some agreement about what constitutes actions and behaviors deemed “good” — right? We all know evil when we see it. We can all identify good when we see it. So what do these straightforward words mean?
Well, that’s when things get complicated in our “Brave New World.” Before embarking on the classic Aldous Huxley dystopian novel, we have to come to an agreement on the definitions of words. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “How can you not know what these words mean?” Don’t students know anything? What are you teaching them? Fair point, but how would you define these very important words?
Our reality is shaped by our perception, which is the way we feel about how we view the world around us. The reality in our brave new world isn’t always based on the foundational western civilization view of the world.
Things have changed in the past 50 years. Good is based on a conglomeration of how we feel about something more than it is an objective rendering of that which society views as — not evil.
Of course, we know good or evil when we see it, or read about it, or experience it, but coming to a consensus about how we view the world is almost impossible these days. If the perception of good and evil is based upon our “pathos” (feelings) entirely — then we are just a little above the deer walking around Craig. What separates us is our ability to use our “logos” (logic) and our “ethos” (values) concurrently with our pathos. We “metacognate” (think about our thinking) and get input from our conscience to evaluate the world around us and make decisions about how we will conduct ourselves.
You might think this is crazy, a fool’s errand, or impossible — but not if we are tasked with determining the societal impact of what we are being told about how we should behave or view things like our planet, our children, our pets and our culture. If not we will become victims of a meandering morality of sorts based upon preferences and feelings. Dangerous taken to its logical conclusion!
So, go ahead, what is your definition of these very important words? Talk to your friend and neighbor about them and see if you agree. It might just be a conversation worth having.
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