Yesterday, our 16 year old son invited his girlfriend over for dinner. After talking about various things, it came to light that despite the abuse I went through as a child, I take my biological mother on her errands every month since she doesn’t drive. The girlfriend seemed shocked. Why would I do something for someone who put me through so much as a child? It’s not out of love. Yes, I know that sounds harsh. It’s not out of religious obligation. It’s out of my own sense of morals and my own personal beliefs on happiness. In this instance, they are closely intertwined.
My Moral Belief
I believe that I have a moral obligation to minimize suffering. That doesn’t mean I have to do it at my own expense. That doesn’t mean I have to put myself in danger. It means I do what I can to help the world be a better place. I don’t do it out of fear of eternal damnation or suffering. Frankly, the world is bad enough. If there is a hell, this world is likely it. To make life on this planet easier, we should all just do what we can because we live here. Kinda like picking up after yourself at home.
Do Morals Make Us Happier?
Yes, I know. That’s a big jump. Many people equate the broad idea of morals to being religious. That’s just not true. Atheists have morals. Christians have morals (and different denominations often have different moral beliefs). Muslims have morals. The general morals here in the west aren’t the same as in the other parts of the world. Morals are just as much a part of where we live in the world and who we personally are than any book (or lack of a book). Morals should just be doing the right thing. It shouldn’t be tied to a sense of what may happen if we don’t do it. We should just do it because we believe it is right.
Only once we accept morals as something we should do just because it is the right thing and not because of some cosmic reward or punishment will they make us happier. Why do I do nice things for people that weren’t and still aren’t nice to me? Because I know it is the right thing to do. Those are the things by which I will be remembered. Even if there is no afterlife or even if there is an afterlife, when I die, I will die happy because during my time here I did what I could to make the world a better place.
And that’s what we should all strive to do. There shouldn’t be a, “Well, I would IF so and so were nicer…I would if they would…I’m angry…I’m hurt.” If it doesn’t put you in any danger, you should do it. The world needs more good deeds for the sake of good deeds.