Thursday, 29 May 2014

Morality, European Union and a Horseman in the Sky


"I eat meat because I don't see a point in consuming the morally impeccable vegetables", 

said one of my closest childhood friends to me a couple of weeks ago. It's quite a puzzling statement at the first sight - don't you think? Granted, for it to have any value as a "justification" one has to accept the premise  (or: implication) that the preservation  of "moral impeccability" itself should be taken as a moral compass for morally impeccable acts. Let me rephrase the implication, so that I myself could understand it: if you want to act in a "good" way you should try to avoid harming "good". Yippee! We've made a perfect 360°circle - and now triumphantly have every right to proclaim that absolutely everything can be that "good"... 

That, of course, is the whole point of the quotation above. My friend likes to come up with similar statements to show the complete relativity of so called "moral acts". His formal reasoning is impeccable in deed - but I still disagree. Why? I'll tell you in a minute :)

 43% of the EU population voted - ca. 7% against Europe  

First let me recall last weekend and the rather frustrating statement of Europe and its people: "We don't care about the EU!" - might be a slightly exaggerated version of it. However, taking into account the non-voters you'll find about 2/3 of the EU-population (at least those having a voice) saying "I don't care about" or "I don't like the EU". Is there a point in blaming anyone for beeing disappointed with the EU or not sharing the ideal of transnational politics? I don't think so. Because the only possible grounds for this would be moral ones - and as we've seen above absolute moral grounds don't exist, right ?...

a Horseman in the Sky

I wonder how many of you know this short story by Ambrose Bierce. I'd suggest you to read it on your own if you liked to - because writing a summary of a short story is like squeezing out the water of a watermelon.
For the sake of this post only one piece of information is important: a young soldier is faced with a decision to make - and surprise, surprise... he hesitates. He starts fighting with himself (his conscience?!) and in the end forces himself to decide.
This very small word is all you need to show that moral grounds are inevitably human. We all need somekind of moral compass to make decisions. Even my friend, who suggests that all there is serves only the need to survive couldn't disagree: because "not making any kind of decision" or "deciding arbitrarily" are , of course, a kind of decision. Still there is no logical objection possible to the subjectiveness of morality - right?
After all, whether "not caring about" or "not liking" the EU is morally "wrong" is merely a question of perspective.

Yet there are certain cases where things are not that easy. Think of concepts like "pain", "well-being" or the most fundamental one "life" - which in its essence is the avoidance of "pain" and the promotion of "well being". If you deny the existence of "life", of course, then there is no point in anything. But if you do let "life" into your life - well, there you go: the absolute moral compass for everybody.

Going back to where we started, you still could try to justify a general "preference of meat over vegetables" on absolute moral grounds - but this creates a completely different basis opening the door for concepts like compassion, unity and love.   

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