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November 13, 2019

Morals

Morals are rules of human conduct that have been handed down to us by word of mouth from time immemorial. Morals are also called ethics in philosophical terms. They do not spring up overnight like the laws passed by the legislative body of a country. They have evolved in each society over long periods of time, going back far into the past. They are shrouded in the mists of time. So it is very difficult to pick a certain time and say that it was the time when moral rules were introduced into human society.
Morals are concerned with what is right and what is wrong in regard to human conduct. Every human society has its own code of moral conduct for its members to live by. In fact, they usually are in the form of dos and don’ts we have to observe in our dealings with other people. They are, if I am to say so, the cement that holds together the fabric of societies themselves. If there are no moral rules, chaos will arise, and the society itself will have fallen apart. Morals may be said to be the pillars that lend support to the very existence of human societies.
These morals are instilled into us at an early age. In our childhood we are taught both at home and school not to take what does not belong to us. We must not tell lies. We must be honest. We must pay respects to our elders. We are not to break in on our parents’ conversation. All these form part of the moral training are given to us while we are young. As a matter of fact, they are also interwoven with our daily routine that they have almost become second nature with us.
Without morals, society will be thrown into chaos.  People will find it difficult to get on well with each other. Each will be out to grasp of what he can get, regardless of what is right and what is wrong. It will turn into a sort of a free-for-all. ‘Might is right’ will become the motto for most people. They will have lost all sense of justice and fairness in their social and business dealings. Selfishness and greed will have prevailed among them.
Most moral rules are closely associated with the religions people confess. Our own moral rules are also, to my mind, a mixture of both social and religious tenets. Our Lord Buddha’s teachings contain many rules governing the moral conduct of laymen in society. “Mingala Sutta” that we were taught in our school days is, in fact, a sort of moral rules for laymen to observe in their day-to-day living. That book has given us early moral training in the traditional way.
Moreover, morals change with the times societies have passed through. What was once accepted as good may not be so at present. Also what is right in one society may be wrong in another society. Moral rules differ from one another in different societies, depending on their social, cultural and religious backgrounds. They are greatly influenced by the changes in cultural, social and economic perspectives of people in their respective societies. In the socialist society private business is considered as exploitation of man by man. However, the capitalist society accepts private business as an honest, honorable means of livelihood. These days, much to our surprise, even socialist countries have come to accept and promote private business as a way to develop their economies in order to catch up with the advanced countries of the West. So if we want to live in peace with other people, we have to adapt ourselves to the changing moral values of the society we belong to. Otherwise, we will find ourselves at odds with other people. We will surely become odd-men out in society.
What is more, there are also professional ethics that members of professions have to observe in pursuit of their respective professions. Once we have adopted a profession, it behoves us to abide by the ethics of that profession. Thus editors have their own ethics to observe; so do auditors, doctors, lawyers and so on. A member of a profession, be he an auditor, doctor, or lawyer, he has to abide by the ethics of the profession he belongs to, he will surely lose not only creditability but also respect of his clientele. When his clients lose confidence in him, because of his breach of professional ethics, they will shun him and his profession will suffer undoubtedly.
In conclusion, we must consider it our duty as good citizens to try as best we can to live up to the moral principles of our society. If we happen to be members of a profession, we must comply with the ethics prescribed by that profession, into which circumstances of life have thrown us. If we are public servants, then we have to abide by rules and regulations laid down for all public servants. Only then will we be able to live peacefully and harmoniously with the rest of society and prosper in life.

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