Thursday, March 13, 2014

Morals – An arbitrator of humanity

“And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, so the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.”
The Prophet, Khalil Jibran

Uprisings, war, insecurity and injustice these are some of the most critical issues that concern humanity. The injustices of imperial monarchies of the past, today’s corporatocracy, endless wars between Nations and recent uprisings leave every soul in turmoil. It is in human nature to yearn for a utopia, the same was center of Platonic philosophy. The premise of finding this utopia was inspired by deliverance of justice and that humanity can flourish. The search however, didn’t conclude in the annals of arguments of Socrates and Plato and humanity. Instead, it slowly evolved into very different philosophies, owing to the contrast present in human intellect. So, there were Mazdak and Karl Marx, Francis Bacon and Plato, there was Russian Revolution and there was French Revolution, every individual and every major event in history was more or less based on the inability of humans to deal with different economic, social and foreign threats. The result of these great men and revolutions is that there are today, many –isms, ¬¬¬but humanity is still in the abyss of despair.

In this perspective, the endeavor in this article is to highlight how morals can be given the place of a judge to measure how well a social structure is working. This would give an insight of how humanity really works.

For something to be a parameter, it needs to have authenticity and universality. The question arises; how morals can be the parameter to judge humanity? What do we mean by humanity? Answer to the first question lies in belief system of humans. We believe something to be that way because our senses tell us to think that way, after senses we have power of reasoning that comes from experience and tells us how things are. So, if we disregard religion for a while, although it is an inseparable existing reality, we will come to the conclusion that there are certain acts and certain beliefs that no one on this earth would want to do no matter what. Disregarding exceptions we can agree to certain aspects of human behavior that are good and some are bad. Again, from experience our reason can guide us to judge what qualities of an individual help flourish the society and what deteriorates it. So, by experience and priori we have an understanding that virtues like truth, fairness, honesty, nobility, charity and many others are some of the popular and known morals that result in the benefit of whole.

Now the second question; what do we mean by humanity? A society in which corruption is rampant, dishonesty, deceit and apathy, hedonism and vanity are norms, people get frustrated and the coherence of the communion is lost. When lust rules over morality, result is nothing but chaos. Similarly, virtue, pity and goodness are synchronous in every culture. Whether it is Papua Guinea or Australia, Malta or Ethiopia, Pakistan or India, morality has a transcendent nature in every soul. It is not in the confines of culture rather it defines a universality of culture.

“Caesar carried off the treasures of Egypt, Greece, Gaul and Rome. Napoleon looted the money vaults of Venice, Vienna, Madrid, Berlin and Moscow. London only escaped him. Nebuchadnezzar plundered the Temple of Zion, where the Jews kept all their deposits and drank his beer and wine out of Jehovah’s pots of gold.”
(Might is right by Ragnar Redbeard)

Wickedness cannot culminate into justice for the wronged and aid for the poor, it will result in Barbarism and cruelty that will further ignite war that is the most inhumane act. The belief of survival of the fittest is in itself an act of injustice for the weak and is against the innate morality of humans. Now, consider a society where individuals practice sympathy for others, empathy for the distressed and sincerity in their jobs. What would the results be? Will it improve the social harmony or will it disapprove such acts?

Definitely, it will result in a symphony of coherent rhymes of beautiful synchronization of actions depicting the true capacity of humans in the form of morality. Coherence, harmony, stability and prosperity can only be materialized in a society when every individual works within the confines of what is virtuous and what is moral. Immorality on the contrary would ultimately lead to injustice, chaos and destruction. The persistence of people to do well is therefore, known as humanity.

“Our ignorance of the few things that really matter is as prodigious as our knowledge of trivialities.”
(Gai Eaton)

In order for humanity to be considered universal, it is argued that humanity is not a depiction of behavior and beliefs of an individual. The influence of morality spans from individuals to Nations. When individuals practice it they become good individuals and same applies to countries. Although likes of Machiavelli have tried to prove that there are no rules of morality for the government but only for the ruled, the fact remains and we observe acts of pure injustice by those who are in power for those who are weak. It means they are mistaken somehow and there is a need to overhaul thoughts about morality. It is from that judge of experience that human conscience acknowledges injustices that are constantly engulfing our moralities. The search of man is for beauty and absence of morality spoils it.

“A heart which, when exposed to temptation, absorbs it like a sponge that soaks up water, leaving a black stain in it, will continue to absorb each temptation that is offered to it until it is darkened and corrupted."
(Imam Ghazali)

Morality is even the basis of law. Therefore, what else can be the arbitrator for humanity? The reality of crime and punishment is based on what is considered immoral and or that causes material or spiritual harm to other people or a community. Some of these extreme acts are considered to be punishable. What than would suspension of law result in? Can it be the beauty that every soul searches for? Can it help cultivate harmony among humans? Will existence be possible without it? Certainly it cannot be. Morality ensures that Law is upheld and law further ensures that justice is provided to all without discrimination of race or gender or Nationality. It ensures smooth trading, it ensures complementary communion of husband and wife. It provides leverage to every business and every profession the people choose to adopt. It ensures smooth trading and mercantile exchange. In short, it helps every individual to explore his/her abilities and utilize them for the best of humanity. This gives not only a purpose but the innate satisfaction and kindles love for fellow beings and forms a society that is coherent.
The source of law however, is not the law itself but the conscious ability of man to identify those innate feelings of good and bad, right and wrong, moral and immoral. It is through these beliefs and reasoning, innate in humans, that law exists. If there was no priori how can be there a posteriori.

It is a difficult question to answer the question; how can we measure morality? For our parameter to be effective as an arbitrator it has to be measurable, otherwise our purpose is lost. One measure of morality can be the crime reports of different countries tabulated by law enforcement agencies depicting statistics of different crimes being committed by individuals. The other measure can be the happiness factor of countries. We have seen in our discussion that morality helps in promoting cohesion and love of beauty that results in satisfaction of individuals and finally it results in making individuals satisfied and happy, having zeal and zest of life.

Another measure can be friction present in society. Presence of friction means that morality eludes the society and that malevolent forces are at play. Friction can be measured by tabulating the number of people that are present in different classes of the society. Class differences can give us clues to how well the morality is embedded in the society.
Morals are what make humans human. In the course of our discussion we have seen that morality can help clarify the delusions of present era and can sit as a judge of what is right and what wrong. It requires a lot of study to know the foundations of morality, its perfection and how to achieve this end by justifying the means as well.

Morality however, plays the pivotal role in the construct of a society. We have seen that morals are not confined to cultures countries rather they are innate in every human being. The inseparable relationship of law and morality makes it an object of further curiosity. Some of the proposed parameters to measure morality can be crime reports, happiness index, class differences and extensive studies can help us to validate the thesis presented in this essay.
The essay is hoped to ignite our passions to serve humanity and to make it more susceptible to love and beauty, for that is the aspiration of humanity.

“You will not attain true goodness until you give of what you love."
(Quran: Ale-Imran-92)