Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about spirituality, morality and all of the things that make us the way we are. Why do we choose the things that we do? I grew up in a family of fourteen children and I don’t think any of us think exactly alike. So, what makes us choose certain moral choices? Tonight I took a morality test on the internet. I was surprised at the results as they fairly accurately described me. (The Morality Test) http://www.outofservice.com/morality/results/?morality=73&political=93&social=64&o=8&c=97&e=22&a=87&n=9 I’m a shy person but am also out going in many ways. I am politically liberal and yet very conservative socially. I’m kind of close minded in my approach to morality because I see many things in very simple terms. There isn’t much leeway for me on most issues of morality. It’s either black or white. There really aren’t many shades of gray for me. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about should I do this or should I do that as there really is just right or wrong for me Like I said there aren’t any areas of gray. I don’t consider myself to be a typically closed minded person on most issues. I’m only closed minded on the issues of what I believe to be right and wrong.
My family is Roman Catholic. I’m sure this has much to do with my morality code. I remember talking with a fellow male teacher years ago. He used to joke about messing around on Saturday night and then going to penance on Sunday. Maybe it’s different for guys but I never did that. He loved the Catholic Church because it taught forgiveness. He always felt that he could go ahead and mess around on Saturday because on Sunday all would be forgiven. He also talked about it being his “duty” to test the girls. I never felt that kind of connection with the church. My connection with the church was more inwardly spiritual. He knew he would be forgiven for his weaknesses. I, on the other hand, couldn’t bring myself to be weak and out of control morally because I couldn’t face the consequences that bad behavior might bring. This may be something to do with the differences between the sexes. Of course a young woman would and could pay dearly if she messed around on Saturday night as she could get a bad name or an unwanted pregnancy. None of these things showed for the young men. Back in my day, the only people that got “bad names” were girls. It was always “boys will be boys”. It was almost expected that a guy would “sow his wild oats” but girls were treated differently.
In many ways the Catholic Church treated women differently by classifying them as either virgins or whores. Back when I lived in Oklahoma I used to attend a mission church. I lived out in western Oklahoma in Cheyenne. One time when the priest came out to the mission mass I asked him to stay after as I needed some counseling. I was alone in Oklahoma with my small child contemplating divorce. He came out to my home, had dinner with me and we discussed many issues. It was interesting because he explained to me how the church classified women and how it was difficult for a priest to be alone with a young woman as the priests are taught that there are women out there that are attracted to priests as mates. He said that they essentially are taught that there are two types of women, the virgin and the whore. Of course it’s easy to see when you really think about it. Women are not in real positions of power within the church. Their role is largely subordinate to the male dominated patriarchy of the church. Of course we are taught about the virgin birth and the Virgin Mary so Mary’s position is elevated. She is virtuous. Mary Magdalene on the other hand was the whore but she redeemed herself so there is always the “hope” of redemption.
Morality of course has many facets. Sexuality is just one area. For me morality is more about honesty and integrity than anything else. We all may know right from wrong but do we all have the integrity to live a life that is virtuous in the area of honesty? Living a virtuous life doesn’t get anyone an award. We hear more about the lack of virtue than about people that live with honesty and integrity. Recently in the news we have been bombarded with the sexual mores of the rich and powerful. We are seemingly shocked at the behavior of Tiger Woods, John Edwards and Mark Sanford. We share indignation and are morally outraged at their audacious sexual behavior. The truth is that none of their lives will ever effect our own situation. We as a people do not live our lives and learn our morality from politicians, powerful people, sports figures or other wealthy people. Most of us learn our moral behavior from our parents. We learn from very little on what is acceptable behavior. I contend that when people exhibit a lack of moral judgment it is because they either lacked moral guidance as youngsters or they learned how to behave like the Romans. We have all heard the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Now, I don’t mean to say that all politicians cheat on their wives and it is learned behavior that is acceptable to that segment of the population but I think there may be some truth to it. We all know that sports figures have groupies that follow them around trying to steal some time with them so we shouldn’t be so shocked when someone like Tiger gets his hand caught in the proverbial cookie jar. I personally think the farther you move away from your roots, whether it is through physical miles or mental miles, the easier it is to go with the “crowd” that you are hanging with and forget about your moral upbringing. This is why it can be a real eye opener when that young freshman goes off to college. Suddenly, they are exposed to a whole new world away from the eyes of mom and dad. It is here that integrity and honesty is truly born. Will that child go with the flow and follow peer pressure or will they become the person they were meant to be? Some may take years to discover who they were really meant to be. It is a part of the learning experience.
Small town living has been pegged as narrow minded, small minded living but in reality it is very difficult to get lost in the crowd when you live in a small town. When you live in a metropolitan area you can more easily get lost in the crowd and do you own thing. Small town people talk and they know generally what is going on in their own communities. I’m not saying that small towns exhibit a higher level of morality than city dwellers. I’m just saying that people are more apt to know of your personal misgivings in a small town. Of course the internet has made the whole world a little bit more of a small town. It amazes me to think that so many people put pictures on the web of their outrageous behavior as though they think a future employer doesn’t know how to use Google. I can remember going off to college and thinking that small towns were small minded but really my heart is in the small town. It is here that I feel I can make a moral impact. I feel if I live an honest life with integrity I become a positive role model for the many children that are raised in chaotic life styles. I’ve always felt that we should treat each other in the manner that we would want to be treated. I choose to live my life with integrity. I do everything I can to treat people with respect and I expect to be treated with respect as well. It is a lifestyle that may seem boring to many but I live my life with a clear conscience. I know I can sleep at night knowing I don’t have to fake who I am. If you are living with a liar whether it be you or your mate you can never really live a virtuous life of integrity because you are always expending negative energy fighting the lies. I may be old fashioned and virtue may be over rated but I can’t imagine being anyone else. So sleep well my friends and remember that integrity sleeps with a clear conscience.