The basis of morality brings about a multitude of questions; how do we behave toward one another? How are we to learn morals? Why do we need them? What are the rules? Morality is a social phenomenon that I contribute most of what has been instilled in me to be from experiences, however, I also think we all have an inner basis for right and wrong. Without even knowing it, we use our moral compasses daily to make even the simplest of decisions, society contributes to making us the way we are. We can all lead the lives we desire if we put faith in the moral compass we have constructed, even if that means it fails us now and again. In this paper, I will demonstrate how my family, education and extracurricular activities have all shaped how I make critical decisions based on my moral compass and made me value unselfishness. While both the concept of a moral compass and definition of morality can be summed up simply, what constitutes morality is not.
One person’s moral compass may not point in the same direction as another’s, for me, I have been living in an environment for the past 19 years where people tell me what I should do and what I should not do, others may have been told the opposite. My parents have taught me how to be a good role model for my siblings, making sure that I knew that just because something was given to me does not necessarily mean it is mine. From a young age, my parents taught us basic principles of fairness, justice, and responsibility, all of which factor today when I make decisions. By thinking of others first, individual desires were put on the back burner which allowed for a greater sense of love and gave me a sense of identity. They taught us what was “right” or “wrong” in their eyes, enforced and maintained it through positive reinforcement and punishment. Teaching us that just because something is not against a law per se does not mean that it is not wrong. Thoroughly understanding this led to a debacle between of friend of mine and myself. She would occasionally shoplift items and not get caught, her excuse was that they make enough money as is and as long as she did not get caught, she did not feel bad. I mentioned my concerns to her about the differences in what we valued and expressed how I did not think it was right to do even if she was not getting caught, it left a pit in my stomach every time even though I was not the one committing the crime. My family and friends that I consider family is the basis for why I value what I do and how I implement those into decisions that impact my life such as picking The University of Scranton.
A substantial amount of my life has been spent in school or reading outside of it, whether that be books, social media or any other form of entertainment. Mass media is constantly channeling what they want to broadcast as “right” and “wrong”. By going to school, teachers taught me what was “right” and what was “wrong” textbook wise, do not cut the line in lunch, do not speak when the teacher is, do not yell at the other kids, be “nice”. I think the concept of being told to be nice is absorbed very superficially for most kids. One thing school has taught me is to think before I speak, it morally grounded me to understand that you never know what is going on in someone’s life. Learning and absorbing as much information I could from school, books and peers has given me more knowledge to make my own decisions on what position I want to take on controversial topics. The ability to think critically. Associated with school came organized sports which emphasized that not everything is about me, you cannot just do what is best for you, rather, you may need to give yourself up to help those around you. The constant reminder that something is greater than me has stuck with me today when I have to make decisions that do not only affect myself but those around me as well, coming to college and living with someone put this to the test. I can only hope that the base for my moral compass is strong enough to last throughout my life to help build relationships and continue to stay true to what I stand by.