Thursday, 3 November 2011

How Do We Judge Good Behaviour?

 Lets not measure the good we do by the things we do not do: restrain, avoidance, denial, discriminating, refusal, exclusion,.... (The severe ascetic ways).

Lets measure the good we do by the things we are willing to do and do:
Acceptance, awareness, care, support, understanding, guidance, inclusion, (The ways of deeper understanding and freedom).

Often moral codes, whether written or followed by habit and tradition have a tendency to guide thought and action by pointing out what should not be done.
They may often appear as a code of “do nots” with strict warnings of the consequences to those that disobey. We even follow this pattern when educating children, in school codes of behaviour and even work codes.
It is not unusual to hear people say that they do not approve of someones behaviour, that they do not mix with the “wrong kind of people”. They tend to like uniformity. A uniformity dictated by their own ways and sure enough they are just a step away of imposing their ways on others as a means of reassuring that uniformity. There is only one way to do things right (needless to say they it is their way).

By taking the negative code of behaviour things become forbidden and dangerous. Things that need to be avoided, at all costs. They can be a particular food, specific actions, and even a denial or feelings or thoughts!
Of course, those that follow the same rules are a group, a selected group, and the others,.... well at best they are ignored and considered lesser beings. At worst they could even be burned at the stake! (real or symbolically). Guilt and shame are by products of this lesser develop moral outlook.

Moral codes are a guide but they are not a substitute for personal consciousness. No real moral code should be distant to human nature. Quite the contrary, it should acknowledge and understand human nature before it attempts to become any sort of guide. Therefore consciousness is better develop as a true guide when it is honest and sincere. When it takes into account what we are and what we could be. It should not make anyone a foreigner, an excluded being. Respect is the key world here and from it openness and acceptance. Not of any act, but of the human being acting. It is often forgotten that it is actions that may be judged but not the human being. Care with language should be considered. He is a bad man, she is not a good person, etc. etc. It is better to say (and think) he did something wrong, she made a mistake. It would also be of help if we made an effort to place ourselves in the situation of that acting human being as to understand its motivations, limits and options.
Not that moral relativity is due, but a flexibility in judgement and in accepting that there are many ways to do things right!

If behaviour is better understood, then adequate guidance and responsibility may be found. There are indeed wrong actions. Our best choice is to see them clearly and then find a way to better guide and overcome the situation or decisions made as to change, improve and evolve. A helpful hint would be to measure others as we would like to be measured if we had done the same thing, and then, be conscious that people have a right to their decisions and have responsibility about them. There often is little we can do to change people. First and foremost they need to feel the need to change and maybe all we can do is help them find the right direction for them. Again, respect is the key word. Realising our limits and right to help or give guidance to others is a wise starting point.

It is better to embrace life, take risks, and learn from our own experience. It is better to acknowledge that there are many ways to do things right, that everyone has a right to experiment and guide their life according to their goals and deeper purpose, and that that is not a threat to us.
Right and wrong may be clearly seen if we learn to embrace life with responsibility and respect, with a sense of purpose and discovering that we are all linked and dependent on one another. That the individual is sacred, but it has no purpose or sense unless it discovers that his life has a collective purpose and a responsibility towards others.
The discovery and developing of this consciousness is what education, moral education and moral judgement should be about.

Want to be practical?
Then, be kind. Be active in thinking, doing and willing good. Make it inclusive and loving. It is compassion properly understood: to live with others, to experience with others the same feelings, emotions, and thoughts. A very inclusive way that has nothing to do with pity.

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