Morality Ends Where a Gun Begins

Morality Ends Where a Gun Begins

Morality can be a virtue but its imposition can boomerang, inciting more vice as well, as evident from its abuse by moral police and traditionalists in the name of safeguarding the culture 

Traditional societies have many restrictions. The diktats make the surrounding so suffocating that individuals tend to start finding ways to break free from the shackles. Conservative mindsets complete the farce in such social groups. However, whether such coercion produces results is open to question.

A reductionist’s perspective of morality is the ability to differentiate the right and the wrong. In the words of Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal, morality is ‘a cultural overlay, a thin veneer hiding an otherwise selfish and brutish nature’. From the most superficial stance, we can feel the duality of the term, and more conspicuous from its lack of absoluteness.
Image from http://fikakenya.org

There is a classic example from my overly conservative hometown. Overly conservative, because we are bound in traditional communities in which touching is even forbidden. But that’s only half of the story. In the region, the army rapes under legal protection, the insurgents rape because they have the guns, the ministers indulge in daylight debauchery and the masses are so fucked up both ways.

How do you imagine would the young lovers express their thoughts, feelings and desires with no space of their own? We are considering again about a place where an intimate act, howsoever culturally foreign, like kissing is considered a taboo. No one can deny, though, the young people go much deeper than that!

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If men and women try to create a society in which there is no fundamental agreement about good and evil they will fail; if having based it on common agreement, the agreement goes, the society will disintegrate. For society is not something that is kept together physically; it is held by the invisible bonds of common thought. If the bonds were too far relaxed the members would drift apart. A common morality is part of the bondage. The bondage is part of the price of society; and mankind, which needs society, must pay its price.
LORD DEVLIN, MORALS AND THE CRIMINAL LAW
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The result is no surprising: there are hundreds of seedy cafés and stalls with ‘dark cabins’, where on one hand men and women, boys and girls, old and young are making the loves of their lives while defying restrictions, and on the other hand, the moral police are pampering themselves with occasional raids and indulging in their myopic power to establish their concept of morality as much as they have the expertise in running kangaroo courts.

Behind the social useless mores, everything is permissible. So what good are they doing? Shakespeare would have love to quote repeatedly the world’s a real funny stage in this part of the world.

WHAT’S THE STORY, MORNING GLORY?

A friend called me up, asking me to accompany him to a clinic where one of his cousins is admitted following an accident. The clinic is situated in one corner of Imphal, where the neighbourhood is lined with medical centers and a couple of hospitals. When we reached the facility, we found that no one named N——, his cousin, was admitted in the last two days.

Her parents arrived while we were searching helplessly. They came with one of N——’s friend. She pinpointed the nameless, which was where the two of them had visited earlier in the day for womb exploration, which puritans call god-help-abortion.
Image from www.nature.com

We came for attending to an accident victim. Without delay, we returned when the parents were talking about talking to the family members of their daughter’s married boyfriend.

It was indeed an accident—a bedroom mishap! Does condom make the experience less exciting? They need some lesson on planning and protection, not some social and familial discrimination. It is just not a one-off incident but a convention.

People might have somehow understood the livability/die-ability quotient of the region. No wonder, people are leaving in droves with the majority of them heading to the mainland Indian metropolises each year and some of them beyond the country. Once we are out of the state, nobody gives a damn but the same few folks who would be raiding chowmein stalls and joints, aka restaurants, provided they were in our native place.

UNDERSTANDING AND DOING

An individual’s understanding of morality can be objective, picked and culled from the most conscientious rights and wrongs. It can be subjective as well, because it would depend on each individual. On a societal level, it is even much harder. On some occasions the sense of morality reeks of barbarism as obvious from the concept of mob justice that is prevalent in the region. This also calls for a separation between morality and the social mores.

It is no surprise when the world is on our fingertips. We can see what’s happening around the world. We have internet. We have the latest communication gadgets. We can just do whatever like anybody else across the globe—all of these at the cost of our culture. Well, that’s another story.

Both implied and expressed agreements run the engines of a society. The lack of commonality will break it up. Subsequently, here, we are concerned with a chaotic region, and here again, we can see the glaring disagreements. It is only in the fine line of traditionalism that we can feel the dominant presence, or simply, the supposedly approved manners and behaviours like moral policing, social boycotts and mob justice. The fact is that these are not even relative, but at times, downright vicious. But, as usual, who will police the police?
Image from http://what-buddha-said.net

Theoretically we can follow the stage theory of morality to understand it, formulated by Lawrence Kohlberg, the American psychologist. See the chart below.

WHY DO WE NEED MORALITY?

Our actions are causative, that is, these produce effects and results. The probable consequences can affect others. This will be one main reason why we have to separate the right from the wrong. No one can deny the significance. This kind of understanding, therefore, can prompt us to do the good while prohibiting from doing the bad. Do we need self-righteousness to make better moral decisions or need those moral vigilantes to understand the finer nuances of morality? Hardly so.

The imbalance is apparent when people come into the picture. It is ridiculous to follow the morality imposed by society where the minds of the individuals are rotten. When there is no conformity to the rules from the top layer to the bottom and there is no restriction per se, the efforts only add to the chaos and confusion.


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