A moral, if you like, on Morality


There is a big public outcry in India demanding the resignation/ouster of BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) chief N.Srinivasan, following the revelations and ongoing investigations into the IPL spot-fixing scandal, in which his own son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan has been arrested. While I don’t wish to comment on the politics of the specific episode, I do wish to share some thoughts on the whole aspect of “moral” responsibility that has been thrust into focus.  

How do we decide whether we are accountable or not in cases where we make mistakes, errors in judgment or take ruinous decisions or allow the unacceptable to happen in our circles of influence? What then is the significance of “moral” responsibility in everyday Life?

The whole idea of morality is over-dramatized, often skewed and is tailored to our convenience each time. We allow our children, at least in India, to watch pirated movies or used pirated software because it is convenient, free and because ‘nobody will ever know’. In effect we are encouraging and allowing the next generation to thieve because pirated content is nothing but stolen Intellectual Property. Yet we spank our children, when as young teenagers, they do transgress and lie or cheat, out of a spirit of adventure and nothing else. The whole debate of right and wrong, good or bad, is futile. Because all these are evolving and depend on who’s doing what, at what time and where. It is unlikely that we will find an Indian who has not bribed a cop to avoid a traffic ticket or a train ticket checker to confirm a reservation out of turn. Yet each Indian will vociferously complain and champion against corruption in high places. So, morality, is different to different people, as it has come to be! A Rs.200/- (USD 4 approx) bribe is fine but a Rs.1 crore (USD 200,000 approx) one is not!

The simple way forward is not to kill ourselves with self-imposed definitions of what’s moral or amoral. Let us be continuously, totally aware. Let our awareness lead us onward. To stay aware, let us ask ourselves the following questions before we act each time:

  • Is what I am going to do useful to me?
  • Is what I am going to do useful to, and will it create value for, all other parties connected with my action?
  • Is it at the cost or expense of anyone concerned?
  • Is it in violation of a law or even the spirit of the law?

Obviously, you must answer ‘Yes’ to the first two questions and ‘No’ to the last two to proceed with your decision. Finally, of course, examine whether your action will make you feel good or feel miserable. And be guided by what will make you feel good obviously. These are not the only questions and this may not be the only way to make more aware choices in Life. There could be many different ways. But this one is among the simplest. The idea is not to vex yourself with a dilemma that cripples you each time. The idea is to be aware, be conscious, be alert to living and doing things happily. Endless debates on what’s right, what’s wrong, only lead us to more confusion, stress and take us farther away from living fully. And it’s never worth it if you can’t live feeling peaceful, wholesome, and aware, within you, in every single moment that you are alive!

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