The other day I was called a “Godless Liberal” during a political debate; I pondered this before I responded. I understood my opponent was rather angry, furious if truth were told. If we had been speaking face-to-face, I suspect the ‘Godless Liberal’ would have been accompanied with finger pointing and looked something like this:
That said and his point made, he viewed me as ‘outside’ and thus not worthy of anything approaching civil discourse.
This entire exchange got me thinking about the state of our nation, not from a political standpoint, not from what we see in media but, from how we speak to one another. It got me thinking, outside of what boundary was I that this complete faceless stranger felt comfortable denigrating me in the most sexist terms all the while holding himself up as Christian, intellectually and morally superior?
Before I go on, by the way my response was “Yes, but you will never understand the nuance.”
Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples, Integrity
Do these words have real meanings anymore? Can we say with certainty all societies have something akin to moral structures all members willingly agree with and abide by? When my little friend called me a Godless Liberal, what did he really mean? Did he understand what he meant or was he just parroting others mindlessly, just to have something to say because he was unable to debate the issue.
The first half of this year has been one of change for me; some of this change has been intentional and thus far challenging. Without going into detail, I have changed my mode of employment, at least for now. I have of course begun to expose deeply buried secrets. Finally, it is a Presidential election year; I admit it I love this season. I am a bit of wonk with a passion for a good debate especially if I can also dig into some research and history. This exchange though, this Godless Liberal along with other name calling got me thinking about how we have changed in our interpersonal relationships, how we have changed in our communication manners.
The question of Godliness and Godlessness, religious affiliation, worship both what and how, whether we recognize them or not, have been taking center stage in our public life for decades now. Though we are enjoined from doing so by our laws, even by our Constitution and by implication by our Bill of Rights, we judge each other by a set of Principles. Do we truly all agree to and apply the same rigorousness to our Morals, Ethics and Principles? Do we all truly walk the walk each and every day? One key to answering these questions is, are they all one and the same thing, different aspects but in fact the same thing. Personally, I look at that list and think they are not the same; they are instead building blocks.
I have been thinking about this all week. This is what I have ultimately come up with, tell me what you think and how you would respond to the scenarios, I have posed.
Morals: Primarily derived from religious thinking, all societies have basic frameworks that seem to be consistent though some are more deranged than others in their application of the rules.
- Don’t be dishonest (Lie, Cheat, Steal)
- Don’t be promiscuous and be faithful in your marriage (don’t covet either)
- Don’t murder (killing might be okay for the right reason)
- Be compassionate to those weaker than yourself (feed the hungry, care for the sick and aged)
Ethics: Primarily defined for businesses to operate in the marketplace, organizations establish these to clarify the rules and ensure everyone knows them. Personally, I think in many cases Business Ethics are the organizations smoke screen but that is just me. I have seen these few from past employers they have rarely been adhered to when they got in the way of profit.
- Don’t pay bribes (Influence peddling)
- Respect for individuals (Civil and Human Rights)
- Respect for local culture
- Respect for environment
- Deliver profit to shareholders
Principles, Values, Scruples & Integrity: I have combined these because they are all personal in my mind. We develop personal and interpersonal relationships within society and with individuals, how we interact is based on our own evolution. Despite what some would have us believe we are not born Principled or with Integrity. When we come into the world, we are nothing more than empty vessels waiting to be filled.
So what are these amorphous ideals some of us develop over time and where do they come from?
Gladys has been part of a workplace Lottery pool for five-years. Each week she and ten others put $1 into the pool and purchase a PowerBall ticket with the intent of splitting the proceeds should they win. Gladys collects the money and buys ten tickets for the pool, this week she also buys a ticket for herself with $1. Well, well one of the tickets wins the PowerBall, if Gladys is principled what will she do?
Pontdre is a company with well-documented business ethics that all new employees are required to read and sign their agreement too. George developed a new product with the potential of huge profits but it will require that Pontdre actively petition for a change to current government policies affecting the livelihood of another industry or group and could also cause significant negative ecological effects on nearby towns. How does Pontdre resolve this?
I am not going to provide a scenario for Morals; we can all come up with these. I will leave you with this though; I essentially filtered the 10 Commandments down to three (similar to George Carlin) and then added one of my own. Most religions agree with these as foundational notwithstanding the simpler language I used. I find myself in a quandary as I consider the issue of Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples and Integrity –
Circling back to the idea of GODLESS LIBERAL and my answer of YES
If I read my 4 Commandments, I walk the walk every day. Thus, I have Morals.
If I read my Ethics, as a businessperson who has worked in a variety of roles for Fortune 100 companies and as an Independent Business Owner; I walk the walk and talk the talk. In fact, I have been trouble for doing so in the past.
If I read my definitions and scenarios for the last group, I know my answers and believe I am a person of Integrity, a Principled person.
Godless, perhaps if I apply the definition as society defines it this is true; I am not religious only spiritual.
Liberal, indeed I have been and am now a Progressive to the Left of Center Liberal in most things.
I wonder though, does this mean there is something wrong that makes me deserving of the other name-calling? I wonder how we get the name-calling toned down.
Stoning, burning at the stake, dunking have all been outlawed in the US of A for many years now; with Godless Liberal and very public Slut Walking making a comeback, I have to wonder what is next?
Warning: George Carlin can be a bit offensive. Don’t watch if you are easily offended by language or for that matter by his view of religion.