Socrates is said to have issued the maxim: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” To me, this is one of the greatest aphorisms in the history of human thought. No student of ethics or philosophy is spared this profound truth. Our lives are worthy not because we can evaluate our morality but because we do evaluate our morality. As moral agents, imbued with the responsibilities that come with existing on earth as human beings, we are offered opportunities every day to be the exponents of fairness and justice.
Examining our morality means understanding what that is. Morality has often been the purview of religion or civic justice systems predicated, in many ways, on religion or religious conditioning. But religious morality is highly flawed and problematic; mainly because it is conditional. It exists based on adoption of religious precepts. But human beings do not view the world in one common way when it comes to religion. So perhaps it’s best to see morality as transcendent, even of what some would think cannot be transcended.
Morality is universal. Much like the spiritual assets of happiness and acknowledgment, being treated fairly and justly is an innate human right, something we all deserve. We deserve to be cared for, to be treated compassionately.
But where does it begin?
As with everything, it begins within ourselves. We are, as I began with, exponents of justice in our own right. To treat others well, despite how they treat us, is justice. It is moral. We cannot stand aside as people in our vicinity suffer. We must be the instruments of bringing positive change into people’s hearts and minds. It always begins inside our hearts.
Morality must be rescued from the confine of conditions. May we allow morality to be universal and perhaps we can begin to look within ourselves and see how integral we are to treating others well. How we are integral to the proliferation of universal love and harmony that can spread through our shared and common humanity.
A new morality, perhaps.