I believe morals matter. I find purpose in moral consiousness – the awareness of the profound effect we all have on others during and after our life time. The heart of morality is far more than judgements against ourselves or others. Morals, to me, are a set of values that encourage me to respect and care for other people and our home, the earth. I believe morally consciousness living helps us work through our fears of meaninglessness and mortality.
I recall dealing with doubt and fears of death as a young man. I had a chronic disease aquired in my teen years that could easily cut decades off my lifespan. I had no solid idea about what I really wanted to do with my life. A college ethics class provided an answer to my knawing doubts about my life and death. All life (including human life) is profoundly connected. For every action there is not just “an effect” but rather a chain of effects that reverberate through time. This was an opportunity for purposeful living and hope.
When I was 18 years old I made a decision to become a social worker, and I never regretted this decision. Almost 3 decades later, my sense of moral purpose continues to sustain me through personal and professional difficulties. In the last two years, both of my parents have died. These losses have pressed me to review and renew my purpose in life.
My memories of my parents are infused with moral inspiration. In the eyes of my merciful mother, no one was a nobody. She was inclined to love, laugh and marvel at the wonder of life and death. My father also believed it was important to give while you live. He also worked hard for our family and our community.
Though my parents are now buried, they continue to inspire me. Even people who never met or remember them will be affected by their lives, in many different ways through many different people. This is consoling to me. Even after we die, our lives continue to send waves throughout our social and ecological universe.
I believe morally conscious living is more of an opportunity than a burden. Rather than hold us down, morals hold us up and hold us together. Even if we are not wealthy, healthy or famous, we can do something really good with our lives. Moral purpose still lights the way.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.