Morality: Past, Present and Future
Morality seems pretty straightforward. Something is right, something is not right. Right? I am of the mindset that this is not true at all. Morality is simply which rules of being human work best when all abide by them. Notice that I didn’t suggest morality means that by being moral, you win the game of life. Lots of very rich, very immoral people out there. What I’m saying is, a behavior that, when practiced by all in a society, is beneficial to society in total. I guess it sounds pretty Vulcan but I think, in general, it’s a pretty solid theory.
Even those that have had their morality spoon fed to them by some inviolable authority figures and/or religion could dissect their morality and see that it fits the above test.
But will what is viewed as moral always be the same? I say no.
We used to be naked mammals who had to protect and provide for ourselves first, then our families and then our larger clan. If we saw other cave dwellers, it would have been ineffective for the continuation of your line of DNA to be polite to them. You had to be suspicious of them. They could kill you and your family. It was You vs. Them.
Later, as towns and villages were founded, agreements had to be made between large numbers of people so that, if all followed the agreements, the community would thrive. That was when codes like the Ten Commandments and Hammurabi’s code and other rule books were made. Humans could see that they could get more done as a group that worked together than separately. This was the new agreement.
Now, we are at an advanced stage of an old code. In general, most still believe in a morality that includes not lying, stealing or killing. But now there are seven billion people living on Earth. Some of those seven billion people don’t have a financial value of one dollar. Some of those people have one dollar for every other person on earth. That’s a wide disparity. Arrived at by vastly different life experiences.
The poor and working class around the world, when they breach the moral contract, must generally do so in close proximity to the victims of their sins. The billionaires probably don’t personally go around lying and stealing and killing in person all day long. They do it through their business codes. If it’s legal to do, it must be okay. If you can get away with it, it must be okay. If I’ll never have to look my victim in the eye, it was just business. If you believe that, if roles were reversed, they’d do the same to you, then you feel justified in robbing them, by way of whatever business rules you can exploit.
So we have people that see life as life, with other equal humans walking around, worthy of equal consideration, and we have others who believe that life is more like a game where you win by beating the other players in a game you simply assume everyone is playing. Some people believe equality is written in our humanity. Some believe you earn your place by winning that very specific, dog eat dog, wealth and power as the prize, game.
Two separate moralities. And both work for those who abide by them.
Those who believe we’re all equal because we’re human and abide by a code similar to the old codes, are operating in such a way that, if we all played that way, the world would work out pretty smoothly. The other group, playing by their rules, plays a game that only sustains a world of people like them. People who pile up money and property and power. That limits who will survive their morality. It’ll just be the 1%. So maybe, if the next "great plague" is actually “The Wealthy,” then humanity dwindles to 70 million people who don’t practice morality as we know it. Rather, morality becomes something more akin to the Farenghi Rules of Acquisition. Or just a big billion page contract. And it won’t be wrong. It’ll be what works. It’ll be the new agreement.
So a third option comes to mind. In order to prevent the morality of business from becoming the new human morality, we have to alter the present morality of the 99%. We must still have that face-to-face, don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you (Confucius said it first), as well as the Ten Commandments style of morality but we have to add to it. We have to add the premise that we aren’t just not hurting others but that we are actually protecting and promoting the others as well. Furthermore, we can then all agree to protect ourselves and each other from Moneyheads, the Farenghi, the "Money Worshippers."
I’m not trying to incite class warfare. Just class awareness. You can forgive and not forget. You can love the sinner and hate the sin. And in this new morality, you can love your enemy but also not stand for their bullshit. People who abide by the rules of business over the rule of present day common morality, are not falling short of their goals when they deceive the common people into voting for them, buying their product or giving them their support in any number of ways. They didn’t fall short of your morality. They completely fulfilled their own morality. When they break a promise, that wasn’t a mistake. It was a strategy.
We have others who believe that life is more like a game where you win by beating the other players in a game you simply assume everyone is playing.
I’m also not saying all those who are wealthy and powerful are adherents to the business morality either. Some people get rich in spite of being good people. Some people have too much money and know they have more than they deserve and they help people with it. But many have money because that’s all they are. When people say a rich man can’t be bought, that’s often true. In many cases, he can’t be bought because he’s already owned. His soul is following a different master than yours. And he will continue to follow that master.
Long ago, the ancestors of chimpanzees and bonobos separated. Today, it is obvious that, though they look the same, they run their societies differently. Chimps use violence, bonobos use sex. Humans, also descended from the same common ancestor, use both. Humans use a moral code, as well. A moral code with a specific overarching goal in mind. The goal of success and fulfillment for all. Be human. And let those who choose not to be human continue to cannibalize each other. But don’t let them destroy the rest of us. Commit to protecting each other. An old word for it is “Love” but, if you don’t like that word because it feels hokey or even religious, you can call it commitment to humanity.