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October 11, 2007


Ellen Vaughan

This was a most interesting entry. Morality is something I feel is essential in our interactions with others and our own self being. But what definition of morality are we discussing? It is a very broad and often broad and ambiguous. To me morality is a code of conduct put forward by a society - different than laws or religious rites. It doesn't necessarily involve all five axes described by Haidt - harm, fairness, loyalty, authority and purity: although it can. As an adult, I look back on classes which looked at situations from different approaches, for example, “bullying". We discussed different ways for people to react to different situations. I disliked these classes but found they influenced my "moral" character far more than I would have imagined. The different ways to look at the situations included peace and harmony, not causing harm to others, and helping those around you. By keeping these goals in mind and implementing them, we influence those around us, including our children. Does this mean we are teaching our children to stay within the confines of today’s society?

As time change, so do many of the moral aspects of our lives: for example, sexually accepted behaviors (sex on the screen). A Summer Place was the first riska (spelling) movie – it had no picture of the sexual act but it brought to light the fact that teenagers do have sex. From that moment on, sexuality on the screen has increased and grown creating an atmosphere which glorifies the role of sex for the teenager. Pandora’s box was opened. Is this a moral problem? Is it the roll of society to try to reduce the amount of sex and violence (against women in the sexual act) or does morality not play a role here? I contend we educate out children by example. As a moral parent you will try to keep your children from being exposed to elements of society you consider “bad”, “immoral” or “evil”. Thus you are influencing your children based upon your moral character (liberal, conservative, or whatever). You are providing a code of conduct for your children which fits into the society you recognize.
Now that I said that, lets look at homosexuality, racism, abortion, and (on your part) religion. Different groups within our society have slightly differing views of morality. How do we deal with organizations which have different moral outlooks? How do we decide who gets saved from harm or who doesn’t – as with abortion. Do we harm the fetus to make life better for the mother, or do we harm the life of the mother to not harm the fetus? There are different reasons for deciding one way or the other.

During the early years of our country, there was a definite split of the morality of slavery. Our forefathers decided not to address the slavery issue at the time our country was formed – this was a moral question. Should slavery be addressed in the constitution? By doing so, the new country would have been destroyed even before it began. The writers of the constitution decided the new nation had a chance to survive if the moral question of slavery was avoided – thus continuing the harmful effects of slavery. Was this the right thing to do?
As a teacher, I think having students look at situations from different perspectives gives them the opportunity to learn how other people react to given situations and why. That way they can learn to make their own decisions based upon incites from other perspectives - both from parents and society. This type of situation should not be religiously based or politically influenced.
I will have to do some research on morality again – while getting my educational degree in Australia, we spent two weeks discussing the role of morality in the school situation. I will have to track down some of the references and refresh myself on my arguments then.

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