‘ Don’t do it, it’s wrong! ‘, ‘ How can you do such things? You sinner’, ‘You can’t do that, that’s not the right way’. The question we need to throw light upon is, who decides what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what is sin and what is not? From where do we learn Ethics and morals, where do they lead us? To a better tomorrow or bitter tomorrow?
Moral development in humans is acquired behavioural trait they pick up from their surroundings. Most of the times the elderly in the house, or the people in our circle and the society impersonates most of the morals and conditions us to behave accordingly so as to live in harmony with each other. But, to what extent are they rational? Are they truly benefitting us on an individual level?
As we grow we are made to pass through 6 stages of moral development.
1. Punishment – As a child our mom would reprimand us whenever we do something which is considered wrong or bad. This is the first stage when we abstain ourselves from doing things to escape punishment, be it from parents or from teachers.
2. Reward – As soon as we do something which is considered good, we are given a reward to repeat those same behaviour like getting a chocolate or an ice cream or a gold medal for excelling at something.
3. Good boy | nice girl – C’mon we’ve all been there at some point of our childhood. “Good guys don’t do that, Ramu is a good boy, Sita is a good girl, you ate my choclate, you’re a bad boy “. When we are in the initial stages of developing our personality, we look for approval from our parents, teachers and elders. This is where parenting plays a major role since whatever the parent| society approves of, the child blindly follows by, hence the child aquires the mindset of his parents and immediate surroundings. This sometimes goes on till he realises he has been blindfolded.
4. Listening to the authority – When we recognise leaderships and followers, we tend to believe what the leader delivers to the rest. It can be a dad, a friend in school, a teacher or anyone who is perceived to exercise authority.
5. Rules and regulations – We tend to understand the laws of the land and abide by them after understand all are bound to follow them.
6. Universal ethics – In simple words, empathy. This is the best way to learn morals. Most often empathy is formed within ourselves when we see and understand the pain of others. This way of moral formation outrules all the other 5 ways which are dynamic and need to be reframed according to the contemporary times. All the others ways are not completely reliable since they depend on social acceptance and operate on a larger level, when the society is downtrodden, the individual will suffer more which makes it unreliable for the longer run. For the days passed away and in the years to come, empathy will be the earnest and humane way of moral development which can advance the civilization. By looking, hearing and understanding the pain of a victim one has to frame what to do and what not to do which eventually would be the kindest and compassionate form of shaping ethics. One who tries through all his means to understand the suffering of a victim will not cause harm to himself or others.
Be kind, be human, be enlightened.