The pandemic, as well as the current state of politics, have caused many people to reflect on the concept of morality. However, regardless of the morals you were raised with or those you’ve acquired in adulthood, thinking about moral responsibilities is always important, and maybe more so during these times.
Our morals are largely influenced by our character and worldview, as well as our unique life experiences. Some individuals are born with an innate sense of morality and fairness and a desire to help others. These people seem to be more sensitive to the distress of others.
Moral behavior has to do with acting and behaving according to certain standards. Some would refer to this as having a sense of right and wrong. While there are social norms for moral behavior, there are variations as far as what each person might or might not consider to be moral. The idea of morality is what allows us to interact as a society. When we perform in a moral way, we’re stepping out of our own self-interest and thinking about what’s beneficial for the good of others, or humanity at large.
While some millennials have been accused of being self-centered and being a part of the “me” generation, as a whole, these days much of the entire country is actually increasingly more about the “I” than the “we.”
There are those like the late philosopher, theologian, and author, Jonathan Sacks, who, in his book Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, said that the idea of being moral has to do with believing in anti- self-help. In other words, being moral is the ability to focus on the strengthening of relationships with others and the universe as a whole. He said that it’s about “responding to their needs, listening to them, not insisting that they listen to us, and about being open to others…” (p. 46).
When we listen to and help others, we’re offering a hand, and in doing so, we can be transformed by that experience. Sacks believed that the strongest of nations attend to the needs of the weak and needy. He said, “If we care for the future of democracy, then we must recover this sense of shared morality which binds us as a collective. There is no liberty without morality, no freedom without responsibility, no viable ‘I’ without the sustaining ‘We’” (p. 20).