I’m sure you’ve heard these words many times and how, from politics to religion or everyday life, people really believe that these words have some particular meaning. However, no one seems to have a proper definition for them and, as I will show you in this article, there are some very specific reasons for that.
Morality is generally defined as “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior”, which actually means nothing, since you then have to question: what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’?
Ethics is then given as “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior”, and if we cannot know exactly what ‘morality’ is, then we are unsoundly trying to define this word with another word that has virtually no meaning.
Nevertheless, I will show you how such notions change from era to era, and even differ significantly within the same era, but from culture to culture. Thus, we can construct a more scientific view of these notions by analyzing how and why they form.
Let’s take these words to the past, to the present and to the science.
Some 5,000 years ago, on a small patch of planet Earth called Mesopotamia, then considered to be the cradle of civilization in the West, it was in their laws that if a child says to his father or mother that they are not his parents, they could make him a slave, sell him for money or drive him away from home. Therefore, a rebellion of the son against their parents could put him into slavery. On the other hand, if a parent says to his/her son that he is not their son, the law states that the son still must suffer and leave the house.
In the same culture, “If a wife is unfaithful to her husband and then says, ‘You are not my husband’, let her be thrown into the river. If a husband say to his wife, ‘You are not my wife’, he shall as a fine pay one half mana of silver.“ So, if you were a woman in that period of time and cheated, it was legal (implying ethic) for you to be thrown into the river to be killed. If you were a cheating man, you would just pay a fine.
What happened if a man improperly sold a female slave to someone? Well, if someone else proves that the slave was actually his property, the one who improperly sold her must pay back the money to the buyer, who did nothing ‘wrong’. That is much less punishable than stealing and then selling someone’s phone today.(source)
Here are some other laws from Mesopotamia:
“If the wife of a young man, on her own initiative, approaches a man and initiates sexual relations with him, they shall kill that woman. That male shall be released.“ On the other hand, “If a man acts in violation of the rights of another, and deflowers a virgin slave woman of a man, he shall weigh and deliver 5 shekels of silver.“
So if a wife ‘initiates’ sexual relations with a man other than her husband, she must be killed, but a man who deflowers a SLAVE woman of another man, he must pay a few shekels of silver. Now, I will let you try to make sense of this one: “If a slave woman curses someone acting with the authority of her mistress, they shall scour her mouth with one sila of salt.”
They were also fining (taxing) people money if they, for instance: cut a foot (60 shekels), shatter a bone (60 shekels), cut a nose (40 shekels), knock out a tooth (2 shekels). If I had a 168 shekels a month salary I could have broken two legs, cut off someone’s nose and knocked out four teeth. Quite a lot of damage for such a salary.
Another law states – If a builder constructs a house for someone and, due to its construction, it collapses and kills the owner, the builder should be killed as well.
You know the “an eye for an eye” saying? It comes from this age and it means literally that if a man put out the eye of another man, then he should also be punished with the same act. It applies to everything in this period of time, but not everyone. If you put out the eye of a ‘free slave’, then you just have to pay 60 shekels.
“If anyone strikes the body of a man higher in rank than he shall receive sixty blows with an oxhide whip in public. If the slave of a freed man strikes the body of a freed man, his ear shall be cut off.“
‘Freed man’ means a free slave, one that has been legally released from slavery. The slaves who run away were committing an illegality and could have been killed for that. Those were not free slaves.
“If a man strikes a freeborn woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss. If the woman dies, his daughter shall be put to death.“
While putting out an eye of another person could get you in real trouble, completely blinding someone only results in a 10 shekel fine if the victim was a slave, and 20 if he was a free slave, but if you dared to bite someone’s nose, you would have to pay 40 shekels for a ‘free slave victim’. Yes, they had that in their official law. Additionally, if you had sex with a cow, sheep, pig or dog, you would be put to death, but not if you had sex with a horse or a mule.(source)
If someone was accused of something illegal in this era, he would have been given the option to jump into the river and, if he didn’t drown, then he was declared free, not guilty (source) Apparently, swimming wasn’t a big skill back then, or perhaps the rivers were darn scary.
You can find a more detailed list of Mesopotamian laws at Fordham.edu.
The ancient greeks (3000 years or so ago) were not much better when it comes to bloodshed. The way they dealt with murder was to let the victim’s family do their own justice, and that led to endless blood feuds.(source) Initially, they had no written laws, but instead relied on orally passed ‘rules’ that could be made up at any time. They eventually started a written law system and one ‘remarkable’ set of written laws was created by Draco (a lawmaker). Draco’s written laws were known for their harshness, and his name became the adjective ‘draconian’, which means ‘severe’, or ‘harsh’. His laws were so drastic that you could have been killed if caught stealing only a single cabbage.
The ancient world is full of similar laws that we would consider as cruel and grotesque today. Some things that stand out from this era are the physical punishments (cut a ear, hang, behead, torture), material punishments (fines and taxes, such as payments in their currency and/or rare materials such as gold or silver), and the fact that laws were applied differently by social classes (women and slaves were more drastically punished, for example).
You can read many papers about these laws, dating from 5000 years ago to 1000 years ago (or even more recent).
These laws provided the moral codes of the time. It was quite a moral thing to own a slave (or many), or to kill someone who had sex with a dog or had stolen a cabbage. The kinds of rules we’re discussing here have been accepted by billions of people over many thousands of years, and things haven’t improved much over the last 2000 years.
Capital punishment, or execution, has been a normality among all tribes (countries) for the past 2000 years, when it comes to the concept of justice. To make it more grotesque, most executions have been public. People gathered to see how others of their own kind were tortured in many ways and forms: breaking wheel, boiling to death, flaying, slow slicing, disembowelment, crucifixion, impalement, crushing (including crushing by elephant), stoning, execution by burning, dismemberment, sawing, decapitation, scaphism, necklacing or blowing from a gun.
By 1820 in Britain, there were 160 crimes that were punishable by death, including crimes such as shoplifting, petty theft, stealing cattle, or cutting down trees in a public place. The 20th century was also a violent period. Tens of millions were killed in wars between nationstates, as well as genocide perpetrated by nation states against political opponents (both perceived and actual), ethnic and religious minorities: the Turkish assault on the Armenians, Hitler’s attempt to exterminate the European Jews, the Khmer Rouge decimation of Cambodia, and the massacre of the Tutsis in Rwanda, to cite just four of the most notorious examples.
To give you a small sample of this recent history, “Various authoritarian states— for example,those with fascist or communist governments—employed the death penalty as a potent means of political oppression. According to Robert Conquest, the leading expert on Stalin’s purges, more than 1 million Soviet citizens were executed during the Great Terror of 1937–38, almost all by a bullet to the back of the head.(source) Mao Zedong publicly stated that “800,000” people had been executed after the Communist Party’s victory in 1949.“(source)
Still, the history of human moral ideals is not only represented by these official laws. Culture and religion are two big names in shaping these notions. By culture, one might understand the prevalent traditions and customs of a particular period of time and a particular group of people (tribe), while religion is basically culture on steroids.
Religion is hard to define and, as I said before, is a creation of culture: varied ideas that have become popular over time. These socalled ‘religions’ have very strongly pushed their ideologies, and I suspect they also popularized the notion of morality. But what is religion considering as moral?
Well, according to many of them, some of the actions punishable by death include: murder, adultery, rape, sodomy, an engaged woman who does not cry out while being raped, a woman who is found not to be a virgin on the night of her wedding, worshiping other gods, witchcraft, taking the LORD’s name in vain or cursing his name, cursing a parent, and kidnapping.(source)
Want more? Well, there are tons more: Marrying one’s wife’s mother, certain forms of incest, male on male sexual intercourse, and a son who persists in disobeying his parents (source). All of which were punished with death.
From sexual preferences, the way you dress or what you eat, to mere words and ways of thinking, religions have ‘draconian’ punishment covering them all.
In the name of these ideologies, many people have been killed or tortured. Keep in mind, again, that when these religious fanatics were performing these acts of violence, they were fully acting in the name of morality; they fully believed that they are doing something good.
Tribalism has led to many conflicts. All wars (or at least most of them) are based upon the cultural separation of people. Hitler decided that it would be good to kill 11 million people, based upon some ideas that he had. He thought that some people deserve to live, while others do not. Many feel it’s immoral to kill human beings, but many of those same people will reconsider when it comes to human beings from different tribes.
Racism is another umbrella beneath which moral values have hidden. As a group, the Ku Klux Klan have killed many thousands of people, believing that having a different skin color makes it right to do that. Many people have based their judgments of right and wrong in relation to biological markers such as skin color, eye shape, sex, height, weight and so on.
Women across all of human history have been enslaved in one form or another and treated with much less respect than men. From religions to policies, women represented more of a tool than a human being.
In ancient Greece, women had no legal personhood or right to property. In ancient Rome, women could not vote, hold public office, or serve in the military. In many cultures , women had no right to work, were made to serve as housekeepers, were not allowed to enter certain places, and so on.(source) Even recently (19th and 20th century), women in many cultures have been restricted in their rights. For instance, certain scientific discoveries made by women scientists were not recognized due to gender racism.
Rituals are a noisy and colorful (if I can say that) expression of ethics, morals, customs of good and bad, showing off what people think about human values. It is pure craziness to give you a proper taste of the ridiculosity, gruesomeness, mindlessness and cruelness of these rituals because of their significant number over many millennia. But I will show you five of them, just to briefly highlight what some people consider as ‘a moral thing to do’.
- Some people got on a 6 year diet to lose fat. They even intentionally drank poison in order to vomit everything that was inside their stomachs. Eventually, they will go through a planned ritual where they assume the lotus position (monk style) and just wait to die. Why are they doing that? Because they think it is right to do it.
- In some cultures, people cut off boys’ testicles, just for the sake of preserving an unbroken male singing voice.
- In some other cultures, people thought it was a good idea to make children’s heads ‘pointy’. They forced the scalp development of babies so they would take on this shape.
- At one point in time, when pharaohs died, they were buried along with their servants, who were still alive. They thought that the servants should serve the pharaoh in the other life.
- Suttee and Seppuku are two rituals from two different tribes. The first one is from India and is about widows accepting to be burned alive alongside their deceased husband, while the second one is from Japan and had to do with a voluntary grotesque suicide following the loss of one’s honor.
Social classes is another aspect of human history that was designed with moral ideas in mind.For example, it was a normality, it seems, for most tribes to divide their members according to wealth and power. Those in power accepted the situation as being ‘right’ (we deserve this wealth, while those who are slaves are born like that or deserve to be slaves). Even the slaves looked at the situation as if they deserved what was happening to them (maybe they are not that smart or as lucky as the wealthy ones). Humans treated each other in regards to these social classes: the way one talks, walks or how he is dressed, all of which were part of the mutual relationship between their classes. They believed that to be the right thing the ‘ok’ way to behave toward one another. We will expand the problem of slavery and social classes in another article of TVPM to provide examples of such situations.
In human history, there is no shortage of such cruel acts in the name of moral ideals, but one might argue that all of these acts were imposed by dictatorships of many different kinds, so they might not be a representation of general accepted morality. However, consider that the ones who made such decisions did so in the name of ethics and moral values (most of the time). Also, ordinary people accepted these values (most of the time), even taking part in public tortures, rituals or other reinforcing activities.
Please also keep in mind that these examples are just a small sample of a tiny fraction of human culture. This is similar to trying to describe all of the types of planets present within the Universe, but we can only discuss 23 types of planets out of the quadrillions out there. In order to more fully understand morality and ethics, you must observe how these notions evolved over time and compare them all side by side to recognize that they were always a cultural development, or even an individual/personal creation/invention.
Looking at all of that human suffering, weird and grotesque rituals, and ridiculous ideas of justice, it’s good that we eventually overcame all of them and now everything is finally moral and ethical…..Ok, wait a second!
30-35% of countries today still actively practice capital punishment. 60% of the world’s population live in countries where executions take place; Last year 18,000 people lost their life in terrorist attacks; From 2000 to 2011, around 1 million people were killed in official conflicts around the world, as this article suggests, and who knows how many more were not reported;
Currently there are thousands of deaths a year caused by ongoing conflicts around the world; More than 80% of the world’s population is thought to be religious and, related to that, a news item from a few days ago presented this: “Christians flee from Islamic State threats: Hundreds of families reported to have left Iraqi city Mosul after group said they must convert, leave, pay tax or die.”(source) That’s just one of many religious conflicts and this is in 2014, not 1615; Circumcision is still practiced, along with torture methods that seem depicted from medieval times, plus many other old ways of thinking are still prevalent in today’s culture.
Take the 1932–33 Holodomor, the world’s greatest famine. 10 million people died because the high ranked creatures at that time thought it ok to export 1.8 million tonnes of grain during the mass starvation (enough to feed more than five million people for one year), along with actively preventing migration from famine afflicted areas (which may have cost an estimated 150,000 lives), while also making no effort to secure grain assistance offerings from abroad (which caused an estimated 1.5 million excess deaths), as well as the attitude of the Stalinist regime (that many of those starving to death were “counterrevolutionaries”, “idlers” or “thieves”, who fully deserved their fate).
That is an amazing act of violence, but look at our situation today: almost one billion people are starving; 3.1 million children die each year because of that, and that’s only counting the children. Plus, one in four of the world’s children are stunted (what happens to a child’s brain and body when they don’t get the right amount of food or nutrients in their first 1,000 days of life). A stunted child is often inches shorter than a child who has had enough of the right kind of food. Their immune system is also weaker, leaving them more vulnerable to disease. They are five times more likely to die from diarrhoea.(source 1, 2)
More than that, if women farmers had the same access to relevant resources, markets and services as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.(source) So you see, discrimination against woman reveals itself again.
All that, despite the fact that the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day.(source)
Therefore, in our present society, there is a Holodomor every 23 years. What is the difference between thinking that people are “counterrevolutionaries”, “idlers”, or “thieves”, as Stalin thought, verses today’s thinking that those people have no purchasing power, so it is ok for them to not be given food and eventually die?
As we have discussed in this article from a previous TVP Magazine issue, there are around 100 million people on the streets (homeless) while, as we showcase in another article, there are tens of millions of empty homes in the world. More than that, although there are still 10 million or so people in prisons today worldwide, they are treated better than the homeless people are. Actually, one recent idea to ‘get rid’ of homeless people is to put ‘spikes’ in places they usually gather, like we do to prevent pigeons from ‘pooping’ on fancy fences. They even go to extremes with laws that make it illegal for anyone to ‘feed’ or provide any services to the homeless.(here’s a list of more such amazingly cruel laws)
Speaking of laws, there are currently so many laws that I bet no one even knows 1% of them. There is likely an applicable law for anything you can imagine. You can very easily break the law and yet have no clue about that. If you have more lives than one, you can check them all at Wikipedia.
Here are some examples of ‘rules’ that people still think are ‘ethical’.
In China, you cannot have more than 1 child. If you have more than one, you must pay heavy taxes; In Swaziland, a poor tribe in our modern tribes world, it is illegal for women to wear clothes that resemble men’s clothes. If they are caught wearing such clothes, “they are subject to having them forcibly ripped off of them by soldiers, and humiliated.”(source)
Colorado water laws prohibit the use of rain barrels or any methods to catch rain for personal use. They claim that the rain has already been legally allocated to the state and individuals may not capture and use water to which he/she does not have a legal right.(source)
There is a law in Atlanta that states that you cannot let your pubic hair grow more than 6 inches (15 cm); In Honolulu Hawaii, it is illegal to sing loudly outside after sunset; Kentucky: a female shall not appear in a bathing suit on any highway within this state; In New Orleans, Fire Code outlaws the cursing of firefighters while they are in the performance of their duties.(source)
I can go on and on listing these ridiculous laws. You can do a google search if you want and read the ridiculosity of these laws yourself. Be aware though, as some might be pure inventions, so look for real laws on government or ‘trusty’ websites as reference.
Even if some might be inventions and cannot be properly verified, we all know the stupidity of this system. If you go for a walk naked, you will probably be arrested. If you try to record (videotape) some parts of the world like buildings, landscapes, people, again, you can be arrested. If you try to move from one tribe to another, without the authorization of the tribe leaders, then that’s another punishable act. Using certain words, certain types of outfits, exhibiting certain attitudes, facial expressions or signs, can also get you in real trouble in this world.
When I looked at the ancient laws, I thought to myself what a primitive and dumb species, but now looking at the present day, I am terrified that nothing has significantly changed.
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people, peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53. However, the way people dealt with it at that time is another proof of how ‘morality’ changes from time to time. Because most people (perhaps all) were religious, some religious groups started to kill other religious people, from a different religion, because they believed that would be a good act to end the plague. Others put the blame on themselves and marched barefoot throughout Europe, whipping themselves with scourges, or sticks with spiked tails. Enormous crowds gathered to watch the ritual beatings, complete with hymns and prayers for God’s forgiveness. If anything, encouraging these behaviors only spread the disease faster.(sources)
Considering that, even the ‘rituals’ seem to be here to stay. I’ve taken part in a few funerals in Romania (the tribe I’m from) and they are all grotesque. They keep the dead inside their house for couple of days and all family (children included) have to stay in the same room with the dead person, exposing themselves to potential health risks. Then they take the dead person (who is dressed up in custom clothes, makeup and everything) and walk with him through the town, honking all the way through. They use a big car for transporting the dead person, as shown in this picture, blocking all traffic with this ritual. They walk very slowly while throwing money at the people behind the car (I have no idea why). Then they put the dead into a hole and cover him with soil. In the meantime, they have to pass a live chicken over the hole, and then kill it. When all of this is done, they can’t wait to go to the ‘after party’, which is full of foods and drinks.
These people are more interested in organizing these events than in the fact that a human being just died.
I remember when my grandma died. My family was poor and they worried that they could not buy that much food for the ‘after party’. These ‘after parties’ are done regularly every couple of months and consist in inviting many people to eat ‘in the name of the deceased person’. I asked them why they didn’t organize these ‘parties’ when my grandma was alive, so she could really enjoy the food and everything? …no response of course.
Actually, there are thousands of funeral rituals all around the world. Each more grotesque than the other. Such acts and the black death example are no different when it comes to the purpose of the actions. All of these people acted in the name of ‘good’ and ‘ethics’.
In Africa, albinos are still killed because of the notion of witchcraft, and for the same notion, many women are imprisoned or killed as well. In 2011, a girl was killed and her liver was removed in a ritual to bring a better harvest. In Iran, people get stoned for ‘adultery’. As a reminder, the Ku Klux Klan still has thousands of members; discrimination and racism still exist; theft and other crimes continue to increase; human sacrifice has not been abolished; and so on.
I would suggest that you visit some websites like theync.com, where they do not censor any video they post, and observe some present day human cruelty that it is not shown on TV, for more such examples of acts in the name of ‘morality’.
However, even the people that create digital places like TheYNC are not exempt from the ‘ethical’ influence of presentday culture. I visit that website once in a while to get brain material for better understanding human behavior, and I remember they once had a huge banner on their front page saying that a picture of a nude child was removed because of legal issues, and that they do not allow users to post any child nudity photos or videos, because that is immoral. I was thinking…well, they post beheaded children, abused children (yet not sexually abused I think that may be regarded as child pornography), women and men of all ages being gruesomely beaten, injured or killed…, but they find a picture of a naked human being as ‘wrong’? That has to say a lot about our culture. It is ok to show a beheaded child on their website, just make sure he/she has their pants on.
Speaking of nudity, there is a new danger among teenagers in our modern days. It’s called ‘sexting’ and is illegal in many parts of the world. The violent act these humans are doing is to take naked photos of themselves and send them to other humans. Have a look at such a modern day criminal (5 minute video). The guy was ‘pissed off’ because his girlfriend broke up with him, so he sent a nude picture of her to everyone on his contact list. That was regarded as such a ‘nono’ act that he has to serve five years of probation for the crime, and he is now registered as a “sex offender” — a label that he must carry at least until he is 43. Such ‘acts of violence’ would not exist in a culture where ‘sex’ and ‘nudity’ were not such a taboo subject. Today, you can be heavily charged even if you watch other people naked or mating. I wonder if that applies to watching animals other than humans…
After all, if you are 12, you can watch Steven Seagal kill 55 people in a single movie, but don’t you dare try to watch movies showing uncovered boobs. There are so many movies about murderers, crimes and violence; many are applauded by people, while some even win Oscar awards. Superman, Spiderman, and all of these supposed ‘superheroes’ have a licence to kill as well, and to be violent in children’s cartoons, but again, please put away the ‘filthy’ naked human body and the ‘horrible’, ‘unnatural’ and ‘lewd’ activities one is doing with this ‘thing’.
Another fascinating thing about this current culture is that it bans and blurs many signs such as ‘showing the middle finger’, which supposedly signifies ‘hate’ or ‘anger’, but a gun is not banned or blurred in movies or pictures. Guns primarily signify the intended killing of other human beings, as most weapons are specifically designed for that (there is no need to hunt anymore).
Guess what part of the wellknown song, Still D.R.E., is banned in this video: “I’ll break your neck, damn near put your face in your lap. Niggas try to be the king but the ace is back”?
“break your neck”? No! “put your face in your lap”? No! It’s the word “Niggas”.
If you watch Mythbusters, a very popular TV show, you have seen that they do not see a problem in making many episodes that involve guns or ancient methods of torture (or other kinds of violence), yet they blur every ‘bad’ word they use or any ‘offensive’ sign.
And that is supposed to be a family show.
However, there is one particular episode (episode 06×16) that I think is highly representative of the society we live in: in this episode they were trying to test if a hat with a metal brim around it can decapitate a human being.
Since they couldn’t use human beings to try to test this myth, they were using statues. Although, if Mythbusters was a TV show just a few hundreds years ago (assuming they had TV back then), then I don’t think they would have seen any issue with using a human to test this myth.
Ok, so they get some statues for the experiment, but one of them had a pair of naked boobs below the neck. They were so embarrassed about that, that one of the Mythbusters presenters actually made a bra to cover ‘those’ things. Right after they covered the boobs, they began throwing lethalhats at it to decapitate it. They saw no problem with that. Showing statues (substitutes for real humans) being decapitated is ok, as long as there are no boobs in sight.
If you search Google for the word ‘fuck’ or ‘nigger’, you will get no suggestions, but if you search ‘kill’ or ‘murder’, you will get plenty of them. If you search YouTube for ‘women that fart’, you will get a message on many videos saying “This video may be inappropriate for some users.” However if you search for “women that kill”, you can watch full documentaries about women that kill, without any YouTube warning message. It seems that farting is more unethical (or perhaps deadlier?) than killing.
In many ways, it is more restrictive and harmful in today’s world than it was for ancient civilizations. Today, you can be put in prison even if you just share some online content that is considered illegal. In other words, if you spread ‘information’, you can be accused and perhaps put in jail. If that doesn’t sound like a sick society to you, then I can’t imagine what a sick society might look to you.
Just as wars are advertised and supported by many people, drugs are also fine, and even extremely ‘cool’ as long as they are not considered illegal. Alcohol and tobacco, two of the most widely used, are sold in stores all around the world, and although advertising for cigarettes is now banned in many countries (it was a normality only a few years ago), alcohol is still going strong in advertising. I was in a supermarket store the other day and realized that they have no other display that is larger and more diverse than alcohol. If you want chocolate, you can find maybe 15 types, but if you want alcohol, there are at least 50 types and a full section of the store dedicated to them.
Actually, the entire money system is a system of prey and predator: people are making money on the suffering of others; people are becoming excessively competitive and egocentric, not taking into account the environment when they act; and as for the social stratification: the 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest.(source) I think that says it all. Worst of all, all humans are enslaved in one way or another to participate in the monetary system game. If they try to choose not to, then how are they going to survive? Just a little fact: around one million people commit suicide each year in today’s world. If this is such a wonderful world, why are these numbers so high? We will discuss that in detail in an article about slavery.
One more question and one more example, then we can try to find a scientific understanding of these ideas.
What do you think of arranged marriages? This is a tradition in which the two people (maybe more in different cultures) are chosen by a third party to get married. In other words, you will be forced to marry someone whom others have selected for you, and you might not even get to meet that person before the wedding. It is practiced in many, many countries today and it seems, with no surprise here, that children are suffering because of it.
Watch this video of a girl that ran from home because of this tradition:
If you agree that this is not a moral thing to do, then what do you think about sending children to school?
Without a second thought, most parents today send their children off to such institutions for many, many years (12, 15 or more). By all scientific facts, as supported by Sir Ken Robinson, Alfie Kohn, and Sugata Mitra, who did many experiments and analyzed school systems, school is not only inefficient in teaching something, but also destroys children’s curiosity and may harm them physically, due to the strict school schedule (morning wake ups, excessive homework, stress, etc).
Imagine this: you buy a cute puppy dog, fluffy, joyfull. Would you put this dog for the next 10 years in a dog training institution? Just imagine waking up in the morning, taking your dog to HEID (High Education Institute for Dogs) :), and then picking the dog back up late in the afternoon. Now the dog is tired from the training, you are tired from the work, and you mostly just pet the dog and give it a treat. Sometimes, you ask it to do some tricks that ‘he’ learned from HEID, then both of you get back to sleep. Imagine not even having time to go for a walk. Wouldn’t you say: what’s the point of having a dog if most of the time I don’t even see ‘him’?
Something to think about: many people wouldn’t do to a dog what they are doing to their children…
I hope you get the point of all of this and consider that what you might think of it as of being ‘moral’, today, may actually be the opposite. That’s a mistake that all people have made all across human history and as I see it, it’s the same mistake they are still making today: to project what they think (have been taught to believe) is moral, without a strong scientific understanding of human behavior and the environment.
Let me try to sum up a bit, because this was a huge article: human beings, perhaps since the time we can call them ‘humans’, have acted in varied ways that they interpreted as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This was both a collective and individual process. In any case, the individual’s perception was unique in its details, meaning that even if there was a common understanding of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ among many groups of people, individuals had to had their own unique interpretation of any such notion, because humans are shaped by the environment and they have unique brains.
As you read, these values have significantly changed many times over, fluctuating in regards to the period of time, and the surrounding culture. Mostly, humans have tried to impose these ideals upon their own kind, often through violence, other times rules, rituals, and even social stratification.
There is no ‘one way’ to be moral or ethical. It all depends of the culture and circumstances.
Beating people, killing them, enslaving, creating rules, torturing children and women….all of these have failed miserably to cement any ideals and, if they seemed to work, it was only because of fear and the repeated ‘propaganda’ surrounding these ideals.
However, one might say that there are some notions that all cultures may have seen as ‘good’, including our present day culture, such as “don’t do to others what you wouldn’t do to yourself”, take care of the environment, treat all people as equal, etc.. Yet even those have no real meaning because, you cannot treat all people as equal (some need more attention and care than others), taking care of the environment does not mean to avoid burning some forests or killing some bugs or other animals (sometimes we may need to do that to preserve an environment that is only fit for humans), and maybe I don’t want to vaccinate myself due to personal beliefs (so would it be ‘right’ to not do that to my children as well)?
Today, we have more ‘modern’ methods for pushing ‘morality’ and ‘ethics’, in more indirect ways: through money (as punishment and reward), through psychology/psychiatry (‘diagnosing’ as ill and giving ‘drugs’ to those who have a different personality or are unaccustomed to the present society) and through school (grades, punishments, etc.). Prisons, wars, religion, and more, are all factors through which different clusters of people try to push their own notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ upon others.
However, all of these are basically the same as the ancient approaches, because they are missing the entire point of all this. It’s really all about human behavior “in relation to the environment”. Circumstances change these notions. Stealing food when you and your family have nothing to eat is quite a ‘moral’ thing for your family. Putting rules out there to punish people that are violent does nothing when people lose their jobs and ‘take to the streets’ in protest. Saying that people should be good with one another is quite irrelevant in a world where you have to compete with others in order to survive and thrive. And so on.
There is no doubt that people wanted to do good, even when they killed, enslaved or tortured so many, but this is not a scientific way of approaching this problem. Not at all!
For instance, when it comes to killing animals, we can’t simply declare “we should kill animals” or “we shouldn’t”. The world is much more complicated than that. If we look with a scientific lens towards such issues, the answer is many pages long, not a word or sentence long.
To keep to the same example, here is a more scientific approach to the ‘killing of animals’ issue:
- What is an animal?
- What is the intent or need for killing that ‘animal’(s)?
- If we decide to kill it, how will we do it and what will be the consequences?
There should be many questions and investigations, because there are plenty of animal invasions that destroy agricultural plantations and those animals have to be killed (reduced in numbers) or locked out (controlled), or else many people will starve. They could be carrying disease, directly harming people, etc.. But all that needs to be properly analyzed to understand what is the overall impact on human societies and the environment.
We have to agree that this is a human world we are discussing about. If we were to not at all ‘intervene’ in nature and let it go as it wishes, we will perish as a species. That is a fact because we could not have the agricultural capabilities, technology, cities, research, and more. Even more than that, we are an integral part of nature, after all, and we have to make sure we fully understand our place in it, and how we can learn from it to our advantage.
Instead of telling people that it is not good to destroy the environment, you should show them the advantages we gain by not cutting down forests, or by not endangering the survival of another species, or what are the effects of global warming, and so on.
You can replace these old notions and words such as ‘morality’ or ‘ethics’, ‘good’ or ‘evil’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, with a scientific approach.
This is the only way to arrive at relevant decisions and one thing that it is highly stressed by The Venus Project so much: to carefully look at everything with a scientific lens, and then ‘arrive’ at a decision according with your findings.
When it comes to how people behave, you have to look at the environment and change that, as needed, in order to allow people to behave in ways that are not harmful to themselves and the environment, instead of imposing rules at people to try to force them to behave a certain way. The entire Venus Project is about this, so it is not one answer it is a series of answers to tackle many of the harmful behavioral traits of our society.
Some examples: if you convert any kind of work to be as automated as possible, then you remove the need of forcing people to do those jobs, and you make slavery obsolete. If you manage to create a society in which people have access to meet all of their needs, then there can be no more crimes related to that. If people are exposed to scientific education, then there is a very good chance that old notions and rituals will gradually disappear. Creating a society in which people are not forced to compete with one another to get their life necessities, will reduce the overall stresses we now face, which will then diminish violence, or maybe even eliminate it.
So, let’s forget about such notions as morality or ethics, and instead focus on the complex science behind human behavior and how it is shaped by events/experiences and circumstances.
Through science, we gain the only intelligent way for us humans to understand and learn what we have to do, how to manage what we have and how to behave.
This article was originally published in TVP Magazine, issue 12.