Thoughts On the Meaning of Morality
Ever since the mind of man developed the ability to reason, he has struggled to define ethical/moral right and wrong. Emperors, philosophers, prophets and priests have all promoted their particular versions of morality. Problems arise when the version promoted by one sect, say Catholicism, conflicts with another, like Protestantism, or when say Islam conflicts with Judaism. Each has its version of what to eat, how to dress, when and how to pray, to whom to pray, the proper use of sex, and the role of government in enacting control over people’s behavior.
For me, the determining of right and wrong behavior is based on one simple principle on which it is difficult to obtain a consensus. This principle is: we are all entitled to life, liberty and the opportunity to pursue happiness. Liberty means the freedom to do anything we wish so long as it does not infringe upon anyone else’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What other basis can there possibly be for imposing any other limits? The challenge would be how to determine when one person’s behavior does, in fact, infringe on another’s rights.
If we can reach some consensus on this question, we could stop criminalizing people who are minding their own business and whose behavior we don’t agree with, e.g. drug users, prostitutes, gamblers, and start being fair to homosexuals who want to marry and to women who want to end a pregnancy. It could be as simple as: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.