Imagine walking down the street one day and looking down only to discover a man's wallet. You are stunned and taken aback for a few moments. You curiously peek inside and see that it is full of cash and credit cards. Do you wonder what a frightful time this person must be having, not knowing where his wallet is and what to do about it? Or do you imagine the shopping spree that you are going to be going on because of this new found treasure?
If you are having a moral dilemma about what to do then you do not have a good sense of morals to begin with. The first thing to pop in your head should be that this wallet does not belong to you and how can you find some form of identification to contact this person or contact the police department and turn the wallet in. Anything else means that you do not have a strong moral compass to guide you in life.
At an early age it is hoped that we are all taught right from wrong. That seems like a "no brainer" to most. However, in these modern times morality and ethics seem to be void in our culture and getting away with whatever you can seems to be the trend. We as a culture have lost our moral compass as too many people do not understand right from wrong.
Where does morality come from? One hopes that this lesson in ethics comes from a solid parental training. Think again. As the collapse of the nuclear family continues to grow we find more and more children raised in single parent households. This is not the ideal for strong values as you are relying on a single individual to hold down the fort. While a strong single parent can teach important moral lessons it is more difficult than if two parents team up to do it together. We are failing at teaching morals in our homes.
One would think that our school systems would teach morals to children at a young age. This is often not the case either. Public school systems do not necessarily teach ethics classes but are too busy trying to provide school lunches and graduating each student with minimal educational skills. Math, science, reading and history seem to be more important than learning how to lead an ethical life.
For some a coach, older sibling, aunt or uncle become the morals coach. Others are involved in a scouting program or after school activity and these mentors help guide young minds. Many from the religious sector are encouraged to lead a moral life by their religion training, Sunday school or other spiritual disciplines.
The problem arises as many seek out morality from their television shows and their music. They are taught to get away with whatever they can and mutual disrespect is common. Joining a gang or other negative influence will send you down the road of impaired ethical decisions.
You do not just decide one day at the opportune moment on how to act. If you were in a plane crash would you rush to the front of the line to get out of the plane or would you stay behind to help others? That decision has already been made decades before by your moral compass? If someone were choking on a piece of steak would you help out to dislodge it or would you stay back and roll your cell phone? You have already decided what you would do decades before. If you have never been certified in CPR you have already made up your mind that you will not help. When you see a parked car with its engine running and the keys inside with no driver in sight do you automatically think that this is your opportunity to steal a car? If you were at war and a grenade lands near you do you jump on it to protect your fellow soldiers or do you cower away in a corner? You have already decided what you will do long before the day even arises.
Morals are developed early on. You do not just wake up one day and decide to do a good deed or a bad deed. Morals and ethics are modeled by those who have morals and ethics themselves. Only someone with a keen sense of right and wrong can teach others those same values. If you rely on your friends, fellow gang members, social media, television shows or musicians for your morals you will be sadly disappointed.
It is difficult to work backwards when it comes to morals. By the time you are a young adult if you did not get the moral lessons then you probably will still not get them. Chances are you will be heading down a road of self-sabotage and defeatism as you continue to make immoral choices.
The solution is simple. Teach morality early on. Either teach it in a religious setting or in a school setting. Make it more important than math and science. In today's world it is frivolous to assume that a parent or older sibling will fulfill this role. Make it mandatory from kindergarten until someone graduates from college that they must take an ethics course once a year. Don't assume that a parent will have the knowledge or the training to make this happen. Too often we pass the buck and say "Isn't that a parent's responsibility?" Too often we fall short.
We have often heard it said that it is the parent's responsibility to teach a child about money, sex, health, hygiene and how to interact with a police officer. Too often we have seen how this assumption has failed.
You know that you have a solid sense of morality when random situations occur and you do not even have to think about how to act. You know in your heart what the right thing is to do. Morality does not just happen by itself. It is modeled.
Perhaps we should be handing out Bibles in soup lines and in food baskets. Perhaps we should eliminate topics like history or math in school and teach ethics instead. Maybe we should all have to take and pass a morality test before we can renew our driver's license every four years. If you want to live in a society where its citizens make good moral decisions then you must make morality important. It does not matter if you are an investment banker, professional athlete or school bus driver, it seems that we have a deficiency in morality these days. Do we have the wisdom to fix it or will we continue to be guided off course by a broken moral compass?