Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 10th, 2018

The Importance of Morality


The Importance of Morality

“God has been profoundly real to me in recent years. In the midst of outer dangers, I have felt an inner calm. In the midst of lonely days and dreary nights, I have heard an inner voice saying, “Lo, I will be with you.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
Praying with tearful eyes and a soulful heart in the privacy of midnight or at the crack of dawn will quench your spiritual thirst. In other words, the lump in your throat and the ambiguous feeling of pain in your heart will melted away when tears run down your cheek during a spiritual dialogue with your God, at the altar of worship. Indeed, there is a great solace and mysticism in these prayers when you realize the sanctity of the Creator.
It is beyond doubt that human beings naturally feel a strong vacuum in their souls, and it can only be filled through worshipping God. Whenever you communicate with your God through sentimental prayers, you will find solace and peace of mind. Of course, your spiritual thirst can be satiated this way and prayer is the only sound food for one’s soul.
The idea that the moral sense is an innate part of human nature is not far-fetched. A list of human universals collected by the anthropologist Donald E. Brown includes many moral concepts and emotions, including a distinction between right and wrong; empathy; fairness; admiration of generosity; rights and obligations; proscription of murder, rape and other forms of violence; redress of wrongs; sanctions for wrongs against the community; shame; and taboos.
Unfortunately, nowadays the spiritual feelings of our youths are poisoned by many toxic beliefs which lead either to fundamentalism or liberalism. Currently, the young generation is flooded with various worldviews and religious ideologies which are indigestible for them and therefore they either throw up or feel spiritual sick. Both are perilous for the social health.
For example, the religious extremists who are endangering the lives of people came into being through one of the religious ideologies. Their spiritual appetite has been fed by the toxic beliefs which have strongly brainwashed them; this results not only in their own death but leads to the death of many other innocent men, women and children.
On the other hand, some lose their appetite for religious feelings due to being fed by different irreligious and secular ideologies. Many of our youth have deviated from their religious and moral paths. They are influenced by the bombarding schools of thought. Therefore, they give no importance to their own cultural norms and moral values and they experience life devoid of virtue and morality. This is the very disease of our age. Indeed, our younger generation is highly vulnerable to wrong moral infection.
Morality is of a big value in individual and social life. “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them,” wrote Immanuel Kant, “the starry heavens above and the moral law within.” These days, the moral law within is being viewed with increasing awe, if not always admiration. The human moral sense turns out to be an organ of considerable complexity, with quirks that reflect its evolutionary history and its neurobiological foundations.
These quirks are bound to have implications for the human predicament. Morality is not just any old topic in psychology but close to our conception of the meaning of life. Moral goodness is what gives each of us the sense that we are worthy human beings. We seek it in our friends and mates, nurture it in our children, advance it in our politics and justify it with our religions. Disrespect for morality is blamed for everyday sins and history’s worst atrocities. To carry this weight, the concept of morality would have to be bigger than any of us and outside all of us.
The first hallmark of moralization is that the rules it invokes are felt to be universal. Prohibitions of rape and murder, for example, are felt not to be matters of local custom but to be universally and objectively warranted. One can easily say, “I don’t like brussels sprouts, but I don’t care if you eat them,” but no one would say, “I don’t like killing, but I don’t care if you murder someone.”
The other hallmark is that people feel that those who commit immoral acts deserve to be punished. Not only is it allowable to inflict pain on a person who has broken a moral rule; it is wrong not to, to “let them get away with it.” People are thus untroubled in inviting divine retribution or the power of the state to harm other people they deem immoral. Bertrand Russell wrote, “The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists — that is why they invented hell.”
Much of our recent social history, including the culture wars between liberals and conservatives, consists of the moralization of particular kinds of behavior. Even when people agree that an outcome is desirable, they may disagree on whether it should be treated as a matter of preference and prudence or as a matter of sin and virtue. Rozin notes, for example, that smoking has lately been moralized. Until recently, it was understood that some people didn’t enjoy smoking or avoided it because it was hazardous to their health. But with the discovery of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, smoking is now treated as immoral.

I would like to conclude my article with the statement of Khalil Gibran, “I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church, for you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.”

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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