Living a Moral Life

I was raised to think for myself.  Novel idea, right?  I was not indoctrinated, brainwashed, or pushed into a moral or religious model but instead left to find something for myself.  After all, the most valuable treasure is that which you’ve worked hard to find, not that placed in your lap.

What I’ve found after 36 years is that religions are in the business of polarization even though their core messages are so very similar.  Organized religion has always, to me, been composed of two disparate parts.  Like oil and water, the dual organizational goals of inclusion and exclusion must exist for an organized religion to survive:  you are welcome and, once you’re in, can tell those people they must be in the club or they’ll suffer.  You see, to be right, you have to show how someone else is wrong.  In this crowded marketplace, is there still room for morality?

Raised to think for myself, I look at the religions as one would browse competing brands of laundry detergent.  They all make claims, but what are the ingredients?  How could one be bleach-free AND promise to remove stains?  How does one brighten colors without brightening the color of stains?  How does soap know what is fabric dye and what is ink from a leaky pen?  How can the religions all be right, or how can they all be wrong?

The conclusion I’ve drawn is that there is no impediment to living a moral life.  I feel a great sense of peace when I imagine sitting under a tree and having a cup of tea with Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, and other religious progenitors.  I imagine they’d be a pretty interesting and loving group of people.  What a laugh we’d have over the nutballs who’ve usurped religion as a mouthpiece for their petty hatred!  Just imagine this group of simple folks gathered together to talk about the things that matter:  love for one another, compassion, kindness, education, social equity.  This is a group that would be able to laugh at itself and understand the value of simple pleasures.  This is a group that would celebrate diversity along with inclusion.  And most of all, they would celebrate the moral life.

As I prepare to bring another life into the world I think my role should be like that group of holy men under the tree—to provide fellowship, foster independent thought, and emphasize the value of leading a moral life.  Leave the details and hatred to someone else.

 

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8 comments
  1. Hans said:

    But why insist on living a moral life? Isn’t that like telling someone to conform to a religion?

    • I don’t think that living a moral life is a form of conformity. Isn’t it more akin to living in harmony with kindness and consideration – not hurting your neighbour so to speak?

  2. Hah, good point! But we are still animals and living on a finite spot of rock, so we’ve got to get along. Leading a moral life is to me as much an imperative for species survival as it is for personal goodness.

  3. Brenda said:

    Entirely agree with you.

    Parents should to teach morality to children without tying it to their religious beliefs. However, that is a little bit utopian. It is so much easier to pass the buck and let someone else, and often it is the church leadership of whatever religion they belong to.

    So most kids idea of morality is tainted by a religion of some sort in most cases.

    You were lucky to have been brought up in a “free thinker” environment.

    Brenda

  4. It’s true – morality is so often confused with religion. When Aristotle spoke of morality and ethics, he wasn’t referring to any specific religion, he was talking about a way of life… a way of being a better human being. Being a good human being is not always the same thing as being a good Christian, Muslim, or what have you.

    For many, following a religion is a structure that helps them be better people. But so often religion can become divisive and incendiary that you have to wonder how much good it’s really doing. I’ve always felt that if you look at the big picture, historically religion hasn’t helped the human race as a whole. But if you look at the smaller picture, it has and can help individuals. I guess everyone has to personally decide which lens, which view, they choose to use.

    Wonderful post!

    – Margaret

  5. janella said:

    thanks.

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