This week’s post is a bit different. A thought experiment. A bit more personal.
I have been struggling, for at least my entire adult life, to find a moral compass. What should I do with my life? To reason out a direction for my life. What is the most logical action to take? I’ve searched for inspiration in books, in the lives of others. Who do I want to emulate? Whose path can I use for inspiration and guidance?
These investigations have not been fruitless. The conversations I’ve had with my friends have been priceless. The books I’ve read, informative and instructional.
The conclusion that I’m reaching is that this isn’t something to be reasoned or taught. Others can provide inspiration for achievement. The overall direction is something written deep inside the soul (for lack of a better term). My moral compass, the values that I believe in, has been more or less engrained inside me when I was young by forces I cannot really comprehend. Conditioning, or something like that.
And it is definitely, definitely a predominately emotional thing.
I don’t claim I can always follow every part of my moral compass. It would be untrue.
Below, I list as many components of my moral compass as I can think of, as I think of them. By trying to lay my moral compass out, I hope I can become more aware of my moral compass and use this as a guide to discover what I will find most fulfilling in life. I’d be interested to know what you think of this exercise, if you think I’m on the right path, if you think my premises are off, or how you have discovered what you may want to do with your life.
1) Promote understanding.
2) Do not hold every error a person commits against them.
3) Be responsible with money.
4) Do not live beyond your means.
5) It is important to work toward your goals.
6) Accept responsibility for your actions.
7) Value friendship.
8) Beyond meeting basic physical needs, fulfilling human relationships are the most necessary thing for happiness.
9) “Natural areas” or “the outdoors” are good and worth preserving.
10) Being greedy and selfish will not make one happy.
11) Privacy is a right.
12) A person’s actions should cause no undue harm on other people.
13) Polluting and littering are not good things to do and should be avoided.
14) People have the right to consenting relationships, to create, share, and promote ideas, and to assemble.
15) If one comes across another in need, it is good to help them out.
16) Every person has obligations to every other person. For example, we have an obligation not to torture.
17) My knowledge of the world is imperfect and subject to change when new facts present themselves.
18) When making value judgments or moral decisions, the specific circumstances of the situation should be taken into consideration.
19) Waste is bad. We should reuse and recycle. Energy should come from immediately renewable and long-lasting sources, such as the sun, wind, hydro, and geothermal.
20) Concerning government or society, a more long term view is always needed.
21) I believe in secularism in government (i.e. no religion is favored) and freedom of religion in private life.
I am sure this is an incomplete list, and I will update it as I think of more items.
Should I accept these as an unchangeable part of myself, like my height or the color of my eyes? Or should I strive to change my moral compass to something else? If so, how would a new path be chosen?