Morals are a way of living, which everyone is granted a choice to pick how. There are many paths to a moral life, but religion limits the number to only one. I’m not against the idea of a God, but of the moralising aspect of religion. Moralizing demands how people ought to live. It is because of its narrowness that it deems other ways as inferior.
On the other hand, those without religion can be moralists as well. Some may be militant atheists, who demand to eliminate the practice of religion, but some are non believers and could care less what another believes. The thing is, there is a potential in this belief to not impose personal morals, which I don’t believe can be done with religion. Sure, I’ve met people of religion who haven’t told me that something I was doing was wrong, or tried to convert me, but those are also the ones I’d call a “non-practicing (insert religious identity here). They seem to lack the depth, discipline and passion compared to the ones that try to do those things. Though I can appreciate the fact that they don’t want me to suffer for eternity, I can’t help but think how much they lack in sympathy for people of different beliefs. What good is sympathy if it’s selective?
The first question is, “would I use the ring in the first place?” The answer is yes. I would not want to be a shepherd or anything similar of that status for the remainder of my life. Every power or skill has the potential to harm or help. I would be confident that I would do more good than unnecessary evil with it. Thus, I would have taken and used the ring just as Gyges did.
The second, “would I have seduced the Queen?” In the text, Gyges set up to become a messenger to the King. Which means he had his mind set on killing him. Knowing that the Queen would probably remarry to a person of royalty, I’d probably seduce her if she was exceptionally beautiful. Then again, that would mean she’d know my identity, and in that, I would be giving her leverage over me. So I take that back, I would not seduce her. And for a very important reason. I would not make her my Queen. I wouldn’t trust a woman who would help plot a murder on her husband. I protect my identity and won’t feel obligated to be with a woman because she might use her knowledge against me if she doesn’t get her way.
And last question, “Would I have killed the King?” I would have to ask my own questions. Was he a good king? If yes, then no, I would not kill the king. Was he a tyrant? If yes, then I would be responsible for his death. I’m sure with my ability, there would be a way to arrange a fair king to take over. I’m also implying that I would not be the one to become the king. If all my life I were a shepherd and suddenly I became the king, I would not have the slightest idea of how to run a kingdom. Sure, I may have these ideals, and fantasies of everything becoming fair all the way down to the lower class, but I would have no idea how that would even work. For all I know, I might drive the economy down from taking extreme measures. I wouldn’t know who to turn to for advice or if those in power are trustworthy. If the only people I trust are fellow shepherds, or farmers, how on earth would I expect them to run a kingdom with me. I mean, we spend most of the day with plants and sheep. I wouldn’t trust a shepherd with the kingdom’s expenditures, or a farmer to negotiate peace with a warring neighbor. I would make sure the right people are in the right places, and I’d be the one in the background controlling the show.
In writing this response, the most important message is the danger of rising to the top too quickly. Just like a shepherd becoming a King, it’s like me becoming the President. I have no idea how to run a country because I haven’t built up the skills overtime to do so. It sounds great to be in a position of enormous power, to think you have the ideas of making life better for everyone, but people have to be real with themselves and their abilities. The skills aren’t going to come over night, neither are the right people who share your vision and know how to put it into play.
When Socrates says “the unexamined life isn’t worth living” he is directing the statement toward societal values. I see it as a challenge to encourage questioning. The majority of people tend to accept what already has been established, trusting the decisions of their elders or politicians from generations back. Some are afraid to question. Because if they do, they may be rejected just as Socrates has.
Societal values do have its positives. If the belief is correct and the law is just, then it will be a surviving idea, carried on by the majority of people who teach it to others. These values create a more stable atmosphere compared to a justice system or way of living that is constantly under revision. On the other hand, a scary theory is that people just don’t want to think. Sustaining a healthy personal life is already burdening, and questioning something as big as authority requires much energy. Therefore, people will accept laws and dedicate their lives to something because it is what society values. These values have history and tradition. Adjustment to any requires humility and an openness to change. Sadly, these are virtues the majority do not have.
In the Apology, Socrates says to seek wisdom and truth rather than reputation and honor. I thought about what one’s motives would be to achieve these. For me, if I were to seek reputation, I would want to impress others. If I were to seek honor, I would want to impress myself. If I were to seek wisdom, I would want to give meaning to experience. And if I were to seek truth, I would want to understand. To impress is a desire to feel worthy, whereas giving experience and understanding are to make connections. From connecting things, people see how related things are. And in return, may realize the lives we choose to live may be different, but we as individuals are more alike.
Even today, there are still debates on laws and wars over religion. Sometimes one belief is no more right (or wrong) than another. From questioning things we have the ability to expand our thoughts and revise ideas. The issue people had with Socrates was his difference. But it is those who think differently that have the ability to make a change.
My ethical principles are primarily based on a few things (not in a particular order): 1. How does a belief effect others 2. How does it contribute to my wellbeing and 3. Allow change. The way I treat others reflects the kind of person I am. It reflects my ability in sympathy and allows myself to experience a different perspective. This is important because it reminds me that there are a lot more ways to navigate life than the views of my own. This allows me to review any current beliefs and to change them with new information I acquire. It was rigidity that played a downfall in my past principles. I didn’t allow myself to reexamine beliefs once I labeled them “good or “bad”. In reflection, it only makes sense to be more fluid. Saying that my principles are unchangeable is like saying I have nothing else to learn. My principles have given me a map to follow (more or less) and it will change as I continue to grow. #2 is something that’s been heavy in my decision making in recent years. I have goals to work towards to, and with the limited hours in a day I realize it’s going to take more than just a comfortable amount of time to reach them. When I decide to do something that doesn’t contribute to my wellbeing, I find myself feeling guilty. Even if I’m in a situation where I should be able to relax, I can’t because either I know there’s a lot more work to be done, or I haven’t earned it. For example I’m not as reluctant to decline invitations that involve night life and staying in on the weekends have become a norm. Some people get disappointed, and I do think about how it makes them feel, but I’ve experienced if I do something for someone else because it makes that person happy while I’m sacrificing a principle, the war internally isn’t worth it.
#diet #gains #protein #healthy
A different world. #paradiso