I think that the more important thing to consider is not the people who cannot decide on what their morals and values should be, but those who refuse to consider changing theirs.

If one looks back over time, it can be seen time and time again that the agreed 'normal' moral standard fluctuates, morphs and transforms almost continually. As examples, once it was considered fine to have slaves, now it is not. Once it was considered fine to burn witches at the stake, now it is not. Once it was considered taboo to discuss sex, now it is not. Once it was considered evil to have abortions, now it is less so etc etc.

If we agree that morals change in our society, then there is no such thing as absolute morals. If this is the case, then those that are in the wrong (if I may be so bold as to put the issue into black and white) are not those who shift in their morality, but those who remain fixed and immovable.

By all means, be adamant and strong in your beliefs and morals, but don't be fanatical and closed to other opinions ... for who knows, in time, you may be proven to be very very wrong.

Alas and alack, I think we have all missed the point in this node. The point, if I may be so bold isn't that we decide on our morals or values, but that we, in our process of growth and absorption, discover them.

After all, you don't decide what is right and wrong, you feel it, (this by the way, is called having a conscience ) and only through a broader range of your experience can you decide if your feelings are right or wrong, but by then they may have changed, and you will have to respond to them as they exist.

To give you a case in point, imagine that you are a policeman, now imagine giving up all those things you believe in and have fought for all your life and becoming the diametric oppositon to it. Not partial, but total. If your core values and morals are things you decide, then this should be no problem. You can go from Saint to Satan in a second, and the change is absolute.

What this little scenario lacks is awareness of the fact that morals of any sort preclude certain thoughts or actions, and that they help give us a sense of quality in our lives. After all were we able to chose our morals we would have nothing to learn from each other, nothing to discover, and could rewrite ourselves as and when we choose fit. Looking around this is sadly not the case.

I should know. Now, after a lifetimes worth of moderate insight I know that there are right and wrong things in this world, and despite what others say there are good and bad people, and I don't label them this, this is who they are. I discover what is good or bad, who is nice or nasty through a process of exploration not definition, and I find myself behaving in new and interesting ways everyday, I discover myself, and know who I am through my morals and values.

I discover what I believe because every living moment shapes those beliefs and teaches me what they are, and consequently who I am. How can I decide on them then? If something better comes along, I will become it even before I know it.

I don't think morality is something that whimsically changes with time. Instead, I think it took humanity many thousand years to reach the point where the important questions of morality and philosophy could be addressed. Once the biggest questions were tackled, less important questions could be addressed, and so on.

When we were fresh down from the trees and newly able to communicate, we simply didn't have the language or the need to express the concepts or deal with morality. It was eat or be eaten. Later, we started to form cities (large groups living together, that is) and indulge in agriculture (which required cooperation). Only at this time did certain complex moral questions (eg, is it OK to kill my neighbor if I want to divert his water to my fields?) arise. As long as we were fighting the earth for merest survival, no one had the leisure to bother with time-consuming issues of morality.

Finally, though, we achieved a certain level of lifestyle that afforded us time to think. When this first level of moral questions arose, they were addressed by the likes of Mosaic Law and assorted eastern philosophies. The really big questions were addressed and answers proposed. Then, after a few hundred years, some principles were agreed on (at least locally) and the principles trickled down into day to day society.

Once these really big questions had been addressed and the concept of laws and the rule of law more or less adopted by civilization, our lifestyles and wealth increased. This gave us even more free time to debate somewhat lesser issues - say, the human rights of people captured in battle.

This trend has gone on and on, taking us to less and less important issues to the point where we now dither endlessly about silly stuff like school prayer and campaign finance reform.

Through it all, though, it still hasn't been OK to off your neighbor and divert his water to your own crops. The whole idea of morality changing over time is, IMHO, a chimera propounded by people who want to justify either their own actions or the actions of some group they feel sympathy towards. We're not changing, we're just refining to ever more trivial cases.

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