Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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When you were a child, if you did something naughty, did you own up? Or did you say nothing and hope that nobody would find out? It’s very tempting to say nothing, of course, and in a sense the logic of this is unarguable. If you say nothing, and nobody notices, no harm is done. If you own up, your parents may get angry, and you’ll be in trouble. Why bring that upon yourself?
Of course, sometimes there are suspicions. And so your father or mother might challenge you. Have you taken money from my purse? Did you break the vase? Have you eaten all the chocolate? And again, if you own up, you’ll be in trouble, but if you lie, they won’t know whether it was you, or your brother or sister, or the baby sitter, or the cleaner. And so again you might get away with the crime unpunished for lack of proof.
There are a whole array of questions about morality here. Is it OK to lie, cheat or steal if nobody finds out? Does it make a difference who you are lying to or stealing from? Is honesty always the best policy? Who decides what is right and wrong?
Our moral beliefs are developed at a young age – or at least the framework for them is, but it is interesting to contemplate where they come from. Parents and teachers, friends and family, books and TV, religion, world events – all these things can play a part in forming our beliefs but quite how they intermingle in us as adults is different for all of us. In a sense, what we believe in is a bit random.
But regardless of our personal beliefs about what is right and wrong, it seems to me that broadly people fall into one of two categories – those who judge themselves and those who let others do the judging.
People who judge themselves – who are critical of themselves – will tend to examine their motives, question their thoughts and feelings, and sometimes be very hard on themselves. If they do something they are not happy with they will feel ashamed or guilty. These people will usually be ready to own up because they already feel bad about what they’ve done and admitting to it will be a weight off their mind – and will allow the world to punish them.
People who allow others to be the judges are much more likely to act according to their own wishes, without particularly dwelling on the consequences. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them”. They will tend to have a less rigid moral framework of their own and be adaptable. They may well be seen as quite laid back – they go with the flow rather than having strong opinions of their own. They are unlikely to own up to their mistakes – and when suspected are quite likely to lie or argue their way out of things, or to try to put the blame on others.
Which category are you in? I think I know where Sepp Blatter is….