How Has Moral Studies Influenced the Way We Look at Our Lives

How it has affected our lives : The one thing that has separated humans from being the animals they are as stated in the evolution theory is that humans are civilized.

To put it in layman’s terms, we are on a different level of social, cultural, and moral development and therefore considered to be more advanced. To be civilized, we have to learn to live together with the environment and ourselves while making sure that we know the differentiation of what is “good” and what is “bad”. We need knowledge and skills to be able to evaluate intentions, decisions, and actions between what is right and wrong.

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This is the essence of morality, the reference point from which the fundamental laws of human living is defined. Moral values uphold the right behavior and appropriate response to a given situation.

For example, should a thief be caught stealing money from a shop, the offender will be handed over to the police rather than have him being beaten up by the shop owner. Another example would be the burning of forests to procur land for farming. Here, this action causes environmental and health issues.

Financially speaking the land will generate money but morally will affect the health of the people affected by the pollution and displace wild animals from their habitat. Why the moral values are important : Moral values are the building blocks of our lives, the core of civilization where one good of a minority cannot over ride the greater good of a community. It does not condone individual acts either when it oppresses others’ rights.

So what constitutes moral values? It includes honesty, justice, diligence, compassion, kindness, humility, forgiveness, generosity amongst many others.

These are also not just behaviours but attitudes as well. Being moral requires courage that can guide us through life’s obstacles. Anyone who has courage can bravely face the world. It makes us better people when we learn to care more for others than ourselves.

Through time moral values become our character, our person. Understanding moral values : However, what are the measurements needed to differentiate between the rights and the wrongs? Different cultures have different moral systems. Take for example those in under developed countries where child slavery still exists.

To the child owners, they are helping to provide money to the poor family who is selling off their child but to the rest of the world this practice is cruel. The child’s basic human rights are abused.

This has been practiced for a very long time and has been accepted by that society, so what is right to them may not be so with others. How then can we know what constitutes morality in this case? Moral values stems from understanding the reasons and the need for it. Without understanding, our intellect can only shape our thinking and not our desire to apply.

Morality and understanding are like a lever and a fulcrum as they can only function if they are both present. This combination of reason and morality is needed for conviction to take place within oneself.

The basics of right, wrong, good and bad : Moral studies can also help us in solving moral conflicts in our daily lives. A moral conflict is a dispute that is concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong. Someone’s moral values are related to their practice, thinking and language. Different people have different thoughts and practice.

A person acts through what they their understand based upon their experience and upon what they think is valuable and important.

The way each individual thinks shapes their self identity based on their understanding of facts and issues to help them cope with their problems. For instance, people sometimes differentiate rights and virtues. Each of these is associated with a particular form of society. People from the same cultural backgrounds have similar mindsets. Therefore, their values and behaviour are more or less the same.

However, moral conflicts can occur when two parties have different values and beliefs.

Moral values and beliefs of a religion are co-related. Teachings of almost any religion teach us to do good, to act good and to be a good human being. They teach us and give us the purpose of life. They teach us what is right and what is wrong. The system of religious beliefs sets parameters around us and our conscience will prick us when we are about to cross the line.

Religion can act as a hedge of protection and keep us in check especially when in doubt. Most religious values are the same; to do good to others and to show love. This principle then is the cornerstone from where we develop our moral values.

In situations where conflicts arise due to different sets of beliefs and emphasis, tolerance and understanding will always help. Different Sets of Moral Beliefs : All humans will have to know how to differentiate between right and wrong. This is the basis of our moral values, and this is what we are actually taught to differentiate when a Moral Studies class is on.

All the 36 values that we have learnt in SPM and the A-Z’s in college moral studies have only one sole purpose, which is to help us set apart the good and the bad in humanity. For an instance, we can take a study from Joshua Greene, a Hazel Associate Professor.

He likens the moral brain to a camera that comes with manufactured presets, such as “portrait” or “landscape,” along with a manual mode which requires photographers to make adjustments on their own. Emotional responses, which are influenced by humans’ biological makeup and social experiences, are like the presets: fast and efficient, but can also be careless and inflexible. Rationality is like manual mode: adaptable to all kinds of unique scenarios, but time-consuming and cumbersome.

According to him, the trick is to know when to point and shoot and when to use the manual mode.

To explain it simply, this is how our learned responses are split into the two types i. e. our emotional responses and our rationality. When is it right to show our emotions and when is it right to keep calm and think before a decision? Which situation allows us to do whatever we want or which situation requires us to go against our natural human instincts? This mindset covers everything from homosexuality to abortion.

Thus, through this way of thought; we are influenced into processing the responses available for a situation. In moral studies we also learnt that it covers every area of our lives, for example, our working life.

Honesty and being trustworthy will help us to have integrity especially when faced with temptations such as stealing data or even funds from our employers. Integrity will help push our career to a higher level as this trait is very valued in the professional life. Holding high moral values can cause others to look up to the person as he would be perceive to be controlled, unbiased and even wise. Others can feel confident relying on him for advice because he can also keep sensitive information private and confidential.

It is also important to incorporate the moral value of forgiveness in our personal life.

Forgiveness allows you to move past hurtful or damaging situations. It allows you to abandon feelings of anger or resentment against others or yourself and prevents you from falling into feelings of insecurity and self pity. Materialism vs Morality : What is materialism? In the general meaning, people who are the materialistic type are usually preoccupied with or on material things that can provide physical comforts. The characteristic of these people is the greed for more money and they aspire to be rich quickly even if it involves a lot of risks.

Such as when they develop the sense of desire to live in very expensive and luxurious houses, wear trendy and popular clothes and jewellery, and drive attractive imported cars. This can lead to an extravagant life. Being greedy for more of wealth is the same as the desire for more power, and corruption might happen. Materialism can give out many negative feelings such as lust, selfishness, jealousy, rage and many more. This can makes people forget their moral values and fail to understand the differences between the rights and wrongs.

The worst case is when they lose their faith in God as they cannot believe in anything which they cannot see or touch.

The outcome is that they are likely to commit sin. All of these things can affect our modern society and economy of our country. But there is still a hope and a chance for these people to make some changes in their outlook and separate themselves from the material world. They may have less material things but they can be happy that they do not lose themselves and the support of their families when they allow themselves to learn from their mistakes. So, morality helps us to know our real identity.

That way, we can prevent the influence of materialism from blocking our inner growth.

Human characteristics : There are apparently 7 ways that humans are different from animals. Humans have speech, flexible hands, extraordinary brains, upright postures, wears clothes, have the ability to control fire and blush. The last four are actually related to morality in the sense that they are all part of learned responses. In other words, without moral studies, we will have only three ways to put ourselves apart from animals. Firstly, let’s take into account the importance of an upright posture. In the Victorian era, all men and omen are required to stand upright.

Those who do not do so will be looked down upon by society and can even be charged in court. Then, we have clothing. This can be dated back even to prehistoric times when the first humans wore animal skins as protection against animal attacks. Now, clothing is considered the basis of fashion and also a basic part of morality where public nudity can get you charged with indecent behaviour in the current Malaysian court. After that, our abilities are also gauged in the eyes of others. We can use fire to help ourselves with many things or kill many with arson.

Besides that, one’s blushing can hint to us what a person’s thought may be. Self discovery : Self-discovery is the series of events when a person tries to find out and understand how he feels about spiritual issues or priorities, rather than following the opinions of his friends, family or peer pressure. It is about finding oneself, the true inner self. Many of you might have watched the ‘Eat Pray Love’ movie which was released in 2010. That movie was also connected with the idea of a journey of self-discovery. The movie is akin to a pilgrimage in search of one’s spiritual significance .

It portrays the search as something that is achievable if only one would put his determination to it. The end result would be an empowerment to live one’s life as one dictates it and not to fall into the pressures and complexities of society’s thinking. When a person is empowered in his outlook on life he gains power over his thoughts and actions and is able to find strength to push forward with his own beliefs even if there may be obstacles. As he becomes at peace with himself he becomes comfortable in living out his convictions. He then becomes the leader rather than the follower.