Call me crazy, but I’m of the opinion that humans are born without any sort of moral compass at all. Or, if we are born with one, it would be like using a compass in the middle of a magnetic resonance imaging machine, with the needle spinning out of control and pointing all over the place.
Making a moral choice is, I think, something that must be learned as infants grow into little dudes and beyond. Which means it’s something we as parents have to help create, install and overhaul in the little dudes as they grow up into actual thinking individuals. And I think we might be all the luckier for that.
Imagine if infants came out of the womb with all the same moral choices pre-installed in the mushy, grey squishdrives in their heads. A world of moral clones, unwilling and unable to make the hard, sometimes necessary, choices that are needed to advance society.
Instead, what we get are squalling balls of pure id, to put it in vaguely Freudian terms. Sigmund Freud, the famed progenitor of psychoanalysis, divided the human psyche into three parts. The id covers instinctual desires: the gimme, gimme, gimme part of your personality. The id wants what it wants — now! — and darn the consequences. The ego would be the analytical, reasoning portion of your personality. While the super-ego is the moralizing portion.
If you look at the right way (that is, squint a lot and wear blurry glasses) our job as parents is to be Jonathan Kent. That is, we have to create and raise the super-dude, install a clear moral center into the developing little dudes.
We have to teach the infant dudes that it’s not right to grab their friend’s toy even though they want it. The lesson they need to learn first is that what’s theirs is theirs, but what’s mine isn’t necessarily theirs as well. Teaching that, however, depends on helping the little dude to discover and grow one of the most important parts of their psyche: empathy. And empathy is something of which sociopaths are almost entirely devoid.
Put in it’s simplest terms, empathy really means that other people actually do exist and have their own feelings and thoughts apart from you. That is not an easy lesson to impart. It’s difficult to try and live outside your own skull and skin. We know what we want and what we feel. Other people? We can only guess.
However, with practice and time, our guesses can become pretty much spot on. That, dudes, is empathy.
The next step comes in acting on our empathic feelings. If other people actually do exist, if other people have feelings and emotions and lives of their own, then hurting them would be a bad thing, even if it’s a temporary good thing for us. Sure this is a bit simplistic, but you’ve got to start with the basics before you get dropped head-first into a college ethics class.Share on Facebook Tags: A Dude's Guide to Kids, A Dude's Guide to Life, Acting, Analytical Reasoning, Choices, Clones, college, Compass, Consequences, Control, Cult, Desire, Desires, Disco, Discover, dude, Dude's, Emotion, emotions, Empathy, Feelings, Freud, Freudian Terms, friend, Gimme Gimme, Human Psyche, infant, Jonathan Kent, little dude, little dudes, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Man, Moral Center, Moral Choice, Moral Choices, Moral Compass, Necessary Choices, parent, parents, People, Personality, Progenitor, Psychoanalysis, Resonance, richard, Sequences, Sigmund Freud, Sociopath, Sociopaths, Squint, thinking, Using A Compass, Womb