•    Morality Has No Conscience   

    Scales of Balanced Justice

    By-Line: Morality should NOT be thought of as society’s “Preeminent Guiding Light” in tempering, regulating, molding, influencing or guiding human behavior and values. At best — it is a fickle, often truant, secondary stop-gap safety-net measure — in case something harmful sneaks past the real “Preeminent Guiding Light.”

    And what is the ‘real’ Preeminent Guiding Light?        COMPASSION.

    As noted in the Topic introduction entitled “Compassionate Truths” — Compassion is not widely revered, cultivated, respected, encouraged and ‘groomed’ at home, in schools or at the workplace. But the Ego is. And so is the Intellect — the neglectful designer and CEO of Morality. And that is precisely the problem. Ego, by its own reckoning, sees itself as the nemesis and arch-rival of Compassion. Ego is exclusively self-inflected and self-directed to the “I – Me – Mine” obsessive concerns — making it, by its very nature, a ‘selfish’ preoccupation. Compassion, on the other hand, is always traceable to a concern for ‘others’ — making it, by its very nature, a ‘selfless’ exercise.

    As tendencies go, those who extol Compassion as the supreme virtue are often labeled “socialists” – “Marxists” – “commies” or “bleeding-heart liberals” (and anti-American). And those who tout Ego as the supreme virtue are typically labeled “capitalists” – “industrialists” – “patriots” and pro-American (and Ayn Rand devotees).

    In the developed countries of the World, societies first and foremost, widely revere, cultivate, respect, encourage and groom the individual Ego — while extolling its virtues as a hyper-motivator and a rocket propellant “call to action.” One could reasonably describe it this way: “The Ego has been ‘weaponized’ in order to cultivate a highly industrious, productive hive of worker bees.”

    The United States stands as the supreme example of its enormous success in this regard. The foundation of the ultimate American Constitutional ideal — the supremacy of the “individual” and the ‘rights’ of individuals — has evolved (or devolved) into the worship, adoration, exaltation and deification of the individual Ego. A gargantuan Ego today, in America, is considered a badge-of-honor and is deemed to constitute conclusive evidence that an individual is highly motivated — what’s considered an ideal healthy trait in a competitive acquisitive capitalistic society that loathes its perceived opposite — the complacent, lazy, uninspired, deadbeat, freeloader mentality. An Oxford degree is not required in order to ascertain how Ego and Compassion are antithetical to each other. Nor is a degree required in order to ascertian that Compassion is neither complacent, nor lazy, nor uninspired, nor is it a deadbeat freeloader.

    Fundamental human perceptions, understandings and World views are all filtered through and fashioned by one of these two basic building block operations — Ego versus Compassion.

    In some religions, especially Buddhism, Sufiism and Taoism (and Christ’s teachings), Compassion is what is revered, cultivated, respected, encouraged and groomed as the highest good. But statistically these religious factions are a small minority of all religious adherents. Most mainstream religions stand as extreme examples of acute Ego obsession — as in mammoth “Messianic Ego Trips” and “Delusions of Grandeur” that highly motivate adherents to “spread the gospel” and “convert the heathens” to their ideology. This has often perverted their original core teaching’s emphasis on Compassion. This perversion of religion was made possible when religion became rationalized, dogmatized, politicized and monetized (weaponized) by utilitarian manipulators with other agendas wholly unrelated to the religious teachings.

    The “Killer Bees” are bees that were weaponized in a laboratory, who then escaped and are now rapidly spreading across North and South America. What a brutal irony — because un-weaponized bees are man’s best friend. Without them we could not grow, en mass, all the food that feeds the World. The genesis of this colossal debacle? The greed of monumental Egos on “Messianic Ego Trips” blinded by “Delusions of Grandeur” who wanted bees that would produce more honey — for higher profits.

    This illustrates — surprisingly — that this is NOT actually an “Ego versus Compassion” warfront. The Ego, before it was weaponized like the Killer Bees, was not an irresponsible, dishonest, dangerous, malevolent instrumentality. It served a basic, important biological function — allowing humans to realize that the foot I see is attached to “MY” body and that “MY” foot and “MY” body are different from “YOUR” foot and “YOUR” body. This is a good thing to know — so we don’t amputate the wrong foot from the wrong body when such a medical procedure becomes necessary.

    So Ego, per se, is NOT the enemy. It is only the ‘weaponized’ Ego that is an irresponsible, dishonest, dangerous, malevolent instrumentality. So the task, as most Buddhists well-know — is how to tame and de-weaponize the Ego so it is not a mortal threat to humanity’s well-being. Let’s now look closely at how morality has and has NOT been operating in society — as a means of countering this mortal threat.

    One of the problems is this. Morality is erroneously understood to be the preeminent moral compass and guiding light in tempering, regulating, molding, influencing or guiding human behavior and values. And as many historians have pointed out, “Social morality is immoral because it compromises with society.” Morality is context sensitive — relative to the widely accepted ‘norms’ of a particular time and place and culture. It’s a chameleon. And that is its hypocrisy — which makes it unreliable and unworthy of its “Preeminent Guiding Light” status. It also tends to be a gutless coward. Albert Schweitzer once lamented the fact that physical courage is so revered, rewarded, respected and commonplace, while moral courage is so ridiculed, reviled, despised and so very rare (think demonized ‘whistle-blower’ snitch).

    But by far, the most alarming misconception about morality is that it is perceived as being a kind of Jiminy Cricket inner “conscience” for each individual to listen to for guidance (as in the Pinocchio story). This is a patently false, erroneous depiction of how morality operates. Morality is strictly a ‘shaming’ device and nothing more. It works by instilling guilt for one’s moral offenses — and then subjecting the offender to public ridicule. Most importantly — morality is NOT an “inner voice” of conscience. Morality exclusively references an “external” value (public opinion) and it is context sensitive — relative to the widely accepted ‘norms’ of a particular time and place. It’s a chameleon. The only Jiminy Cricket inner-voice “conscience” there is comes by way of Compassion.

    In the Pinocchio story, Jiminy Cricket is the inner voice “conscience” of Compassion — NOT morality. Stated more succinctly — conscience is synonymous with Compassion, not morality. To be even more succinct — Morality has no conscience. That’s the problem with morality. Morality is strictly an opinion-poll-based weather vane that keeps looking to see which way the wind is blowing in public sentiments. When the social majority deems slavery to be a useful, productive, profitable, acceptable social practice — its morality does not condemn or shame that conduct as immoral. And when the social majority deems slavery to be an inherently unfair, unjust and unacceptable social practice — its morality condemns and shames that conduct. The conduct is exactly the same in both instances. So morality is an unanchored, shiftless chameleon that is swept along in the current generated by the faithless whims and vagaries and vicissitudes of public opinion. Hence morality can only be described as “having no conscience.” For this reason, morality is fully capable of being completely silent, non-judgmental and utterly complacent while unfathomably horrific atrocities are being openly and routinely committed — as happened during the Holocaust. One of morality’s chief crimes is cowardly habitual “Dereliction of Duty.”

    And when the foundation of a society is built around something as shiftless, derelict, fickle, capricious, faithless and volatile as morality — that society will, in turn, be deemed unstable. And that society will correctly be characterized as “having no conscience.” Thus it quickly becomes inescapably clear how vitally important it is that Compassion, not morality, be deemed the “primary function” Preeminent Guiding Light compass and guide for tempering, regulating, molding, influencing human behavior and values. Then Compassion will be readily available to all via the inner voice of conscience and empathy — a far deeper, more constructive, more enduring insight than morality’s shallow, ever-shifting “guilt” mechanism. Morality (manifesting as ‘Guilt’) should only be considered a secondary line of defense — a desperate last-ditch effort to regulate a sociopath who’s been hopelessly alienated from Compassion.

    At this important juncture the critical point has to be stressed as to WHY morality today should never even be considered a significant guide for human behavior or a meaningful influence in American life. If the Trump era has taught us anything at all — it is that there are few moral consequences for even the most egregious, reprehensible conduct by public officials. Morality has little influence because there are such meager discernable consequences for immoral conduct. And morality keeps habitually falling asleep at the wheel. Morality has proven to be a cowardly shrinking violet — time and time again — failing to assert itself to temper even the most bone-chilling abusive human behavior. Without question, we have invisibly passed into a parallel universe where morality has largely vanished from our borders. But lets be honest — it had been in notable decline for a long time and it always was grossly inferior to Compassion as a compass and guide for human behavior and values.

    NASA’s shuttle had a fail-safe system with multi-layered alternate back-up options that relied on the many redundancies built into the shuttle. There was the “primary” function — which everyone hoped would work properly, so that no fail-safe alternate operation would be necessary. If the primary function failed, they had contingency plans in their “fail-safe” protocols that would actuate a totally separate back-up instrument, entirely different from the primary instrument — and if that also failed, most often they had a third back-up alternative. With some of the most critical shuttle functions they had as many as 7 or 8 distinctly separate alternative options they could fall back on as a safety net. That was the concept of “fail-safe” — i.e., if it’s going to fail — make sure it fails safely.”

    Similarly — Compassion must be deemed the “primary function” Guiding Light compass — which everyone hopes will work properly, so that no fail-safe alternate operation would be necessary. But today, society has relegated that assignment to morality. It’s a misguided assignment. Compassion must be deemed the preeminent guidepost and the supreme guiding light relied upon in tempering, regulating, molding, influencing or guiding human behavior and values. Ask yourself this — Just how comfortable would you feel being around someone where the only reason he doesn’t shoot you through the head and take your money is because such conduct is not currently morally acceptable — according to the majority in the latest opinion poll of the general population? Somehow, for me anyway, I would find it profoundly unnerving to think that the only thing saving me from a bullet to the head is the outcome of a fickle, often truant, transitory opinion poll referendum. And it gets even more frightening when you consider WHO was swept into the White House via one of the last opinion poll referendums.

    Compassion is the only appropriate, worthy candidate as the primary-function “Preeminent Guiding Light” compass for tempering, molding, influencing or guiding human behavior and values. Now we can probably hear the roar of hysterical laughter from the skeptic who shouts “What an incredibly naive suggestion this is.” But that cynicism is also context sensitive. And the context right now is that Compassion is not and has not been widely revered, cultivated, respected, encouraged and `groomed’ at home, in schools or at the workplace. At the same time — Ego has been. So the root cause of the problem — Ego (me is superior to us) — ends up at the top of the hierarchy as “Commander in Chief” — in the driver’s seat — while Compassion gets booted into the back seat and told to shut-up (more accurately — tied-up, gagged and thrown into the trunk as a hostage).

    Compassion is how we de-weaponize the Ego. If Compassion had been widely revered, cultivated, respected, encouraged and `groomed’ at home, in schools and at the workplace, as Ego has been, it would not sound like such a ludicrous idea — making Compassion the “Preeminent Guiding Light.” If Compassion had gotten all the kudos, the ad spots, promotions, advancements, bonuses & incentives, tax-breaks and welfare hand-outs that Ego has gotten, Compassion would now be an enduring monolithic guardian and protector for us all right now. And that is the paramount point of this entire article!

    The bottom line is that WE created this monster — this perverted inverted value system and we did it at the grass-roots level, in the home, in schools, at work and in the gangs and groups we identify with.

    WE did this. WE can change it. And the motivation for change is “dire necessity.” The machinery for change is as grass-roots as it can get — start revering, cultivating, respecting, encouraging and `grooming’ Compassion at home — then take it to school with you. That alone is a sufficient start.

    Be a cynic at your own peril. It’s YOUR future. And your children’s children’s future.
    Compassion isn’t dead. It’s just sleeping beneath a long, hard Winter snow.


    The Reflecting Pool Discourse Blog


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    The Reflecting Pool Discourse Blog