Morality has a bad press. It smacks of being judgemental and a blaming attitude. Discrimination is out and tolerance is in. Anything goes these days as long as it doesn’t cause harm. Many people do not think in terms of morality yet they feel that decisions should be made on the basis of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Those, who deny there are any personal rights and wrongs, nevertheless, emphasize the ideals of love, holism, and self-improvement. And even criminals usually acknowledge their crime is wrong deserving punishment if they are caught. So the question remains just how does one know what really is right and wrong?
Is it good to talk about the private lives of public figures? Like the sexual seductions of Dominique Straus-Khan, managing director of the IMF? This is someone who was heading for high political office. Or the widely reported affair of footballer Ryan Giggs with Big Brother star Imogen Thomas? What is more important — the human right to a private life or the media’s freedom of expression? Can talking about people we know be a good thing?
‘Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised’ said policeman PC Michael Sanguinetti in Toronto, whilst advising students about safety on campus. In so saying he unleashed a storm of outrage. The marchers seem to be implying that sexual signals have no meaning in the world of human interaction.
Although details of the raid remain sketchy, one can’t help wondering if the US could have tried harder to capture bin Laden alive and put him on trial rather than carrying out a summary execution. We don’t know to what extent if any there was any danger to the attacking forces bursting in on bin Laden of him detonating a hidden explosive device. The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Williams, said: “I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done.” Few pundits have resisted the opportunity to ridicule him for this. Were they right to do this or was he right in what he said?
When one is hard up, buying a lottery ticket and thus dreaming of untold wealth has its attractions, even if in one’s heart of hearts one knows there is virtually no chance of winning. A bit of harmless fun. Or is having a pleasing fantasy any different from coming out all guns blazing to make money and lots of it? What are ethics of making money?
David Cameron’s ‘big society’ has caused a lot of comment. Unpaid jobs don’t pay the rent/mortgage or bring food on the table. In this day and age people are obliged to work long hours and have busy lives. An ethical perspective maintains that people should do things for others as well as for self.
But being useful is also a way of self-improvement. With less time to dwell on self we can find unsuspected energy from people around us. This method of spiritual growth involves focusing of what is needed and getting on and doing it.
The question of euthanasia is a political one. Some religious people condemn euthanasia as wrong. However, many reach no final conclusion although seeing several relevant spiritual perspectives. Has one the right to live and thus the right to die. Should the individual choice of those who want assisted suicide be respected? Should one be allowed to die to escape intolerable pain and loss of independence? Is there any point in keeping someone alive past the point he or she can contribute to society?