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Reflections on Ethics 117
I Believe - - morality (Part 3)

by: Gordon Barthel

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5. moral motivation: to love and be loved

Some people believe we will suffer eternal damnation if they are not moral, so they argue we should be good to our fellow mortals to avoid this horrendous fate. I can understand the fear of dire consequences is my motivation for not assaulting people who feel it is their sacred duty to preach their morality to me, but it is not my motivation for donating to their charity. Personally, I donate to charities because I care about my fellow human beings, including those who are struggling to satisfy their most basic needs. So, I give to honourable charities to help those who are not as fortunate as myself, to help alleviate their pain and suffering. In other words, I believe I am moral not because somebody threatens me with eternal damnation but because I care about humanity.

Some people are moral because they believe some supernatural authority demands good behaviour of them. Personally, I have not meet any supernatural entities so they have made no demands of myself. I do know my parents taught me to respect everybody simply because they are human. Because of this, I have a diverse group of friends and acquaintances who enjoy my company as much as I enjoy their company. And this social network, if my understanding is correct, is one of the secrets to a long and happy life. And so, I believe I am moral because my parents taught me to respect all humankind without exception or excuse, and I hope to teach my children likewise.

Some people believe they will attain immorality if they are scrupulously moral. I don’t know if anybody can truly bestow immortality, especially considering the universe itself may not be eternal. However, if it is possible, it offers me little motivation for moral conduct here and now especially when today is not running smoothly. Instead, I am good to my fellow human beings because I desire their affections. After all, no sensible human truly admires those who are contemptuous of them; no reasonably intelligent mortal genuinely respects those who repeatedly disparage them; and not even cerebrally challenged people appreciate those who treat them as inferior creatures. Since I desire the sincere admiration and affection of my brothers and sisters, I strive to earn their admiration and affection. Thus, I believe I am moral not because I desire immortality but because I desire the love of my friends, my neighbours and my siblings.

Some people believe they will be rewarded with eternal bliss in some celestial paradise after they die provided they are moral in this life. I do not know what will happen when I die aside from the obvious cessation of life, but I do know I can experience a little bliss in this life. Fortunately, there are many books on the subject in the library and at the bookstore; and there are many web sites, numerous scientific inquiries and abundant news reports addressing the perennial pursuit of happiness. One of the interesting things running through this wealth of knowledge is that happiness grows from gratitude, optimism, compassion, helpfulness, purposefulness, love and kindness. This sound like a prescription for moral living. Therefore, I believe I am moral not because somebody says I will be rewarded with eternal bliss after I die, but because I desire happiness here and now.

Some people are moral because they believe they will be rewarded with a thousand virgins when they die. Personally, I require only my dearest beloved because she enjoys pleasing me as much as I enjoy pleasing her, and we definitely know how to satisfy each other. This I think is infinitely more enjoyable than a thousand clueless virgins who don’t know the difference between male and female genitals. Thus, I believe I am moral, not because somebody says I will be rewarded with a thousand clueless virgins when I die, but because I love my dearest beloved and I hope she will continue loving me.

And so, I believe I am moral because I love others and I want them to reciprocate.


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