Posted in Commentary, Politics

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”–Arthur Schopenhauer (And if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.)

Try as I might to avoid it, the kajillion Republican candidate debates and the news coverage thereof have made it nigh on impossible to avoid the holier-than-thou yammering of a bunch of folks who fancy themselves the only ones willing, able, and anointed to pull back on the reins of our great nation’s galloping descent into what they perceive as immorality and lawlessness.

What has crystallized in my mind as a result is this question: when did “morality” become something solely applied and enforced in sexual terms, and, by association, the conduct and composition of people’s romantic relationships and the results thereof?  If people are talking morality, they’re talking about their homophobia, or they’re slut-shaming, or they’re engaged in prudery-cum-superiority (pun intended), or talking about abortion..always abortion.  If you dress as if you might not be entirely uncomfortable with your personal sexiness, or actively want to have sex, or have too much sex, or have it with too many people, or too many at once, and, god forbid, enjoy it, well, then, you’re unquestionably immoral.  Everything else seems to get a pass.  If you ignore reports from people in charge of national safety until terrorists actually crash into your landmarks and murder thousands because your ego convinces you you know better, or a bunch of people and animals die when your deep water oil rig explodes because lucre comes before lives, evidently that’s not immoral…so long as the person doing the ignoring engages only in weekly missionary position sex solely for the purpose of procreation, and, more importantly, somebody makes a lot of money in the process.

Personally, how thou lovest thy neighbor is pretty much at the bottom of the list of my moral concerns.  Provided your partner or partners are legally, mentally, physically, and emotionally able to give enthusiastic consent, have at it until you’re raw.  I couldn’t care less.

I’m more interested in the immorality of lying, cheating, and hurting other people, directly or at a distance through your decisions.  And that just doesn’t get much press these days.  I happen to think it’s immoral that people on this planet are starving, while an abundance of food rots in silos and warehouses, trapped by economics or politics or warmongering or plain old apathy.  I think it’s immoral that less than a dollar’s worth of medicine could save a life, and the people who need it don’t get it.  I think it’s immoral that medical care is something just for some of us and not all of us, and that people die because suits in offices don’t think it’s cost effective for them to live.  I think it’s immoral to run for office spouting garbage that you have to know is a lie, because you think people are stupid enough to fall for it; and the fact that you may be right just makes it worse.  I think it’s immoral when people ignore the spirit of laws created for the common good, and work around the letter of the law for their personal enrichment.  I think it’s immoral that people who commit white-collar crimes do more prison time than people who rape and kill.  I think it’s far more immoral to abuse and neglect an existing child than it is to abort an unborn one.  I think it’s immoral to think that your right to make huge profits trumps the right of people to clean air and water.

For those who want to claim a Biblical basis for their moralizing, particularly about sex, I say take a look at the 10 Commandments or the 7 mortal sins…there’s plenty more to worry about than who’s doing whom and with what.  Take Sloth, for example.  Originally, it wasn’t just about being lazy—it was about not taking care of things that need taking care of, in your own life and in the greater community.  A non-functioning government too caught up in Pride is committing two mortal sins every day this circus is in town.  If people are unemployed, hungry, and unable to get medical care, all 535 Congresspeople have failed.  Greed is expressly forbidden; greed will get you a one-way ticket to Hell (if you believe in that sort of thing); and yet the 1% seem to imagine they’re the ones being persecuted.  They’re boohooing all the way to their Swiss banks; they’ll probably do okay in the end, unlike the poor folks whose jobs they shipped overseas to be done by more easily abused and enslaved people.

If one has a concern for the moral fiber of Americans, there are plenty of areas ripe for acknowledgment, censure, and improvement, but those who most often complain of immorality generally have their minds caught in our collective zipper.  It’s like a Bizarro-world porn addiction, where the people who think human sexuality is something to be constrained and shamed cannot stop focusing on it.  It interferes with their lives to such an extent that they cannot accomplish anything else, so busy are they with their one-handed reading:  a Bible in one hand, and a wagging finger on the other.

And that’s why I can’t believe them.  You cannot ignore every other immoral, inhumane act going on around you, and imagine yourself a moral person because you’re fixated on what happens in other people’s bedrooms.  At best, you have tunnel vision and a pretty simplistic life perspective; at worst, you’re a hypocrite and a voyeur.  Either way, your soul is imperiled.  So do not presume to tell me you’re worried about mine.



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on ““Compassion is the basis of morality.”–Arthur Schopenhauer (And if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.)

  1. I wish everyone in the U.S. had to read this article! Sadly though, those most at fault are least likely to see themselves in this. This would make a great op-ed piece in any newspaper!

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