As a person growing up, developing ‘morals’ and ‘values’ and learning to evaluate and distinguish ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is something that is considered critical to being an excellent individual.
Learning to discern what’s right and wrong lets you live in harmony with those around you.
However, being a realist you come to learn that when you analyze the matter down to it’s core, there really is nothing such as ‘Right’ or ‘Wrong’.
Everything is a mere subjective experience.
But this can’t be right now can it? I mean, obviously killing a person is bad…
Or is it?
What if you were defending yourself from an attacker who intended to murder you and you happen to kill him in the process? There was a knife next to you and you picked it up to protect yourself and in the process, the assailant gets stabbed. Does it mean you did a bad thing? Isn’t the kill justified when you were the one in danger?
This argument can be applied to an amazing number of situations. Take drugs for example,
Using drugs is considered immoral. Even the mere possession is a criminal offence in most countries.
Of course, most people know what effects drugs have on an individual. It produces a sense of euphoria or in general, various ‘pleasant’ emotions. It can grant a person happiness? So then why is it a crime?
Because of the side effects? Of course, drugs can have a negative effect on the overall well-being of a person. Addiction can ruin a person’s life and is fatal in a majority of cases.
However, we are skipping a glaring fact here. Drugs make a person happy. If a person has a right to his own life and body, shouldn’t he have the right to be happy?
Scary arguments, these. Justifying murder and use of drugs. Then we reach the point of this whole article once again.
There’s nothing that can be rightfully defined as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and be given proper reasons for being called so. What we usually take for ‘morals’ is basically widespread construct.
‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are defined by humans. The standards of good or bad are sometimes socially constructed. That is, we create them with reference to others and what they have said. Good and bad hence act as tools of social conformance, providing means by which those who deviate from social norms can be judged and criticized.
A parent’s view of what a good or bad child does is hence based on their conversations with others, their experiences of reward and punishment as a child, television features on parental discipline and so on.
Sometimes these concepts are even defined personally.
Up until now I’ve told you how we can’t ever conclude some action can be called as right and wrong. But, many people feel this inner sense that killing a person (and many other actions) is wrong even if he hasn’t been told so (eg. an Atheist).
Why? Turns out we have an answer.
Empathy as it turns out is what gives people their sense of morality and this is one of the only things that can truly define things as good and bad at least from the viewpoint of our human society. Empathy is the ability of a human being to feel the emotions and the experiences of another one from this other human’s being’s point of view. All humans are born with this ability except for those who might be differently-abled (mentally).
We know it’s wrong to kill a person because we wouldn’t want someone else to kill us. We know it’s wrong to steal from another person because if it happened to us it would cause us a great deal of suffering.
If you are one to take ideas as seriously as I do you may face a crisis with such a conclusion. So, we can’t define good or bad, how do I know what to do in life from now on? And even if I feel something is good or bad, how is that justified?
That is a question we might never get an answer to. And it’s a disturbing conclusion.
Personally, I make it a point to do what makes me happy as long as I give every other person a chance to do the same.
Don’t let other people lose their chance to do what they want to with their life. Everyone deserves a fair chance because we’re all born equals.
See the world in a different light.
Shawn Kenneth Fernandes