Fine-tuning our Moral Compass


I noticed a blog about fine-tuning our moral compass. It recommends reading wisdom literature, biographies of moral heroes and connecting with the Divine. All good stuff, but that could take a while.

I think I can give you a few shortcuts. Not that I recommend shortcuts because it is the striving, not the reaching of a goal, that counts. Having said that, endlessly striving may not achieve the intended results either.

The place to start is to understand what it means to be moral. The Oxford dictionary defines morality in this way: “Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.”

What is the source of the fundamental understanding in the human psyche of what is right or wrong? Jung refers to this as the collective unconscious and we could trace it back to events in the Garden of Eden. Here lies the problem.

Morality is not so much about what is done, but how it is done. We are moral when our happiness is not acquired at the expense of others. We could philosophise about this endlessly by discussing the child labour that is involved in making the goods that we want to buy as cheaply as possible so that we feel good about ourselves.

Morality is love, the highest possible love for other people and for the well-being of this world. We can only experience this kind of love through our ‘I’. This love cares for others, it is respect, it is concern for the greater good without elevating our own feelings of worth or worthlessness. Morality is a state of being that we seek to achieve as we connect with our ‘I’ and experience the ‘I’ of others as if we were them.

Image: Michelangelo’s painting Fall of Man is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Vatican

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