The Importance of a Moral Compass.

Updated on November 1, 2017
Odewoye Francis profile image

Odewoye,Graduate Electrical Engineering,Registered member, Engineering Council U.K,Registered member(COREN) Nigeria. Professional Engineer.

1. Introduction:

It is probably safe to say that most of us would like to say or think we are good people. But if you were asked to explain what it is that makes you think you are good, could you? It may not be something that we often stop to consider, but our personal morality, our beliefs and behaviour play a crucial part in how we live our lives, how we manage our relationships with others and how we see the world.

We all have a ‘moral DNA’, a personal code for ethical living which guides us in making decisions to do or not to do the right thing. Understanding that code can give us a valuable insight into how we make decisions, and help us to make better decisions in the future.

Morals matter, and in the present times that we are living is matter most and even more, and for those who have them we seem to be in a battle to find the courage of our convictions.

1. Ethics as moral principles that guide our behaviour in society:

Ethics can be thought of as moral principles that guide our behaviour in society. Philosophers believe that moral principle, or virtue, is the most important ethical perspective. They consider the consequences for others before they think of rules, laws and regulations.

To some extent when put together with legal rights and duties, they differ from society to society. They matter because they help us to decide what is right. Today, it appears that standards of living are up, but standards for living are down.

We put things before people. That’s why it has been so refreshing and hopeful to see the massive response of people and governments around the world to the plight of the young schoolgirls recently kidnapped. If we all thought more about our moral compass and changed or modified the way we behaved, the world would surely become a better place.

Ethics as moral principles that guide our behaviour  in society.
Ethics as moral principles that guide our behaviour in society.

2. How do we go about becoming morally better?

How do we go about becoming morally better? In the west and many developing countries, there is an unwritten belief that success is more determined by our wealth and our ability to consume than it is to our ability to nurture and sustain meaningful relationships. Clearly, the one thing that would make us more morally grown-up is more self-discipline, something that is in so much short supply, it barely exists.
A moral grown-up is someone who can exercise restraint and acknowledge they simply don’t need so many of the material things we continue to acquire, which render our lifestyles unsustainable. Curbing our unlimited wants and desires that have left our countries and societies morally and physically barren.

I have to admit I haven’t quite mastered the art of saying no to just one more designer handbag or shoes, but I’m working on it! It becomes even more glaring when you are sharing your life as I am with someone with clearly defined strong morals and powerful self-restraint in the face of a variety of challenges.

3. Human beings make ethical decision using three broad moral consciences:

According to the philosopher Roger Stearn, human beings make the ethical decision using three broad moral consciences, which evolve throughout our lives.

i. Rule Compliance:

True original Conscience in us is deeper than constructed and conventional conscience of the moralist, for it is this all that is a divine possibility in us and which points always towards Truth and Right and Beauty, towards Love and Harmony Perhaps conscience can be viewed as a double-pane window, with the self in between. On one side, it looks toward ego and free will to obey community’s laws. On the other side, it is the soul and divine will to follow universal law. They often converge to dictate the same course of conduct or a similar…and sometimes not.

Our first moral conscience which is described as rule compliance is simply doing as we are told, or what is right. This is an important stage in the development of young children. It is also considered to be a good thing, in moderation, for adults. Rules help to protect us from those with little or no moral conscience or to protect us from danger. Learn to be kind and thoughtful and learn that sharing with others can leave us with positive feelings.

ii. Social Conscience:

This second stage in moral development is known as social conscience.
Conscience is a reasonably coherent set of internalized moral principles that provide evaluations of right and wrong with regard to acts either performed or contemplated. Historically, theistic views aligned conscience with the voice of God and hence regarded it as innate.
Conscience was the inner warning voice of God. Among Stoics, it was a divine spark in man. Throughout the Middle Ages, conscience, synderesis in Greek, was universally binding rules of conduct. Religious interpretations later changed in psychiatry.
The contemporary view is that the prohibitions and obligations of conscience are learned…
The state of being aware of the problems that affect a lot of people in society, such as being poor or having no home, and wanting to do something to help these people, Social conscience is shaped by a person’s moral framework, but its interconnected elements – consciousness, structure, and agency. If we can find common values and goals among seemingly diverse groups and build movements for change, we can understand the social conscience of others. Understanding social conscience, whether our own or others’, helps to identify assumptions, values, and visions, making it an important element of sustainability literacy, and a useful tool for effective social and ecological transformation.

iii. Principled Conscience or Integrity:

Principled conscience or integrity is the third stage. This is where our moral compass resides, our mature grown-up moral philosophy. What is right is defined by moral virtues such as courage, fairness and self-discipline. These are qualities that society no longer seems to be as mindful of as they should and could be.

The greatest role models like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela believed that doing what was right was not about personal happiness or wealth, it was about exercising virtues such as courage and self-discipline to balance our insatiable greed. I think our great late Gani Fawehinmi would fall in this category too.

Our integrity helps us to make complex and difficult decisions about the world and the communities we live in and to make real sacrifices for what we believe in, which will ultimately give us far more gratification than any material thing can. We have now come to a time and place in our collective moral development as a society where we probably need to start asking ourselves different questions to the ones we have been asking.

Philosophers are mavericks and rebels who hate being told what or what not to do; they feel strong enough to make their own decisions. They are good at solving difficult or complex dilemmas. They will break rules if they believe a higher principle is at stake. They may however sometimes lack empathy in making rational decisions.

Human beings make ethical decision using three broad moral conscience.
Human beings make ethical decision using three broad moral conscience.

4. The 3 types of moral discipline:

The interlocking sets of values, norms, virtues, identities, practices, institutions, technologies, and evolved psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible all these are the moral system.
Psychologists have determined from years of study of human behaviour that there are there are 3 types of moral discipline.

1. Personal morality or Individual Liberation.

2. Morality motivated by cherishing others – Bodhisattva morality.

3. Tantric morality – ultimate self-awareness.

Here are some questions that I have considered:

1. Personal morality is looking at my own actions: This is very present and practical. What causes real inner happiness? How can I conduct myself now to bring about some happiness? How is real happiness caused within me? How will refraining from certain actions bring peace to me? Since my anger, which referred to delusions, can harm me. Leading on to thinking: I know that my actions affect my future, what will be the cause of my future happiness?. What can I do to protect myself from the suffering of my future?

2. Morality motivated by cherishing others: At least I can refrain from harming others.If I cannot help others. Since I am practising personal morality as to not suffer in the future, how can I also act towards others so that in the future they to do not suffer? How can I help them attain the same enlightened state I wish for? What actions cause happiness for others? How can I release my mind from self-cherishing to help me help them? Do I recognise how my selfish attitude affects others?

3. Tantric morality – this is changing how I see myself and others, creating a new world for myself and others. Right now my awareness has the limitation, how can I experience the depth and expanse of my mind? How can I purify in a way that when I die, I will arise in a world where suffering does not exist? How can I transform my sleep into a deep practice? How can I become aware of my real self, my real body and mind. It is important I set myself goals and things to remember since I wish to transcend mistaken appearances and ideas that no longer serve me or anyone else. This is real future planning.

When anyone sets off on a journey, sometimes they may or may not know where it will take them. The inward journey of awakening to the enlightened being consists of making some good inner decisions about where I want my mind to go. I can choose the best course of action.When I ask questions and contemplate. These inner decisions will lead me in a positive direction.

Type of moral discipline.
Type of moral discipline.

5. Being good to others is the most important moral perspective:

The most important moral perspective is being good to others that is Angels believe. They think the world would be a better place if we were all a little less selfish and considered the consequences of our actions. Then they consider moral principles such as love and hope.

Then they finally and reluctantly consider rules, laws and regulations. Angels do what’s right for others because it’s in their nature, they don’t have to be told.

Enforcers are the people we rely on to make sure that everyone obeys the rules. They help to stop crooks and cheats, and ourselves from doing the wrong thing. They remind everyone to do their duty. They might appear cold and aloof and sometimes seem to lack empathy.

Being good to each other.
Being good to each other.

© 2017 ODEWOYE FRANCIS SUNDAY

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