Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What are morals and values

We often say that morals and values are essential to a productive society. I thought it would be a good idea to investigate these two terms in order to learn what they really are, and why they are important.

The best way to start this investigation is to define these two terms.

1.  Morals:  Rules that differentiate right from wrong.  They are ethics that have already been decided for us by society or by the religious or cultural organizations we prescribe to.  Examples of morals:
  • Stealing is bad
  • Lying is bad
  • Abortion is bad
  • Adultery is bad
  • Being polite is good
  • Being honest is good
  • Helping people is good
  • Being faithful is good
  • Marriage between a man and a woman good
  • Being faithful to your wife is good
Morals do not ever change, and are handed down from one generation to the next. They are operated upon by a person's conscience.  They sit in a niche within a person's mind, and operate as a voice to guide a person to follow them.  To not listen to that voice may result in guilt and displeasure, and possibly punishment.

2. Values:  These are rules set by an individual person, and can be influenced by morals, family, culture, background, and upbringing.  Personal values that we create for ourselves establish an internal reference whereby we decide what is good or bad, what is useful or not useful, what is beautiful or ugly, what is desirable or not desirable, what is constructive or not constructive, and what is friendly or what is not friendly, etc. They determine your behaviors toward different people and circumstances.  For example, if you believe gays or women are inferior, you may treat them as inferior.  If you love and respect gays and women, you may treat them with love and dignity. Examples of values include:
  • Respect
  • Honor
  • Humility
  • Patriotism
  • Compassion
  • Honesty
  • Fairness
  • Innovation
While morals and values are not one and the same, they work together to determine the path a person will take in his life.  They determine what actions he will take, and can even influence his general well being and what type of person he will become.