When we jettison those old timey manners and morals because all the cool people don’t like them anymore, we have only a passing whiff of ginned-up good feelings to guide our moral behavior. As you see:
I found this fuzzy pink thing in my Instagram feed. Its author was serious.
Literally any random ancient moral code is better than this. This is shallow, reductive, and simplistic. How does one go through even a day living by this code without meeting an insurmountable challenge?
After just seconds one has to ask: What is the good? How do I choose which response is good?
Why should I be good? Why should I do good?
Why should I be good when it doesn’t benefit me? When it hurts me?
What will tell me which action is good? Can I trust my own gut?
What is good, anyway? How do we define “good?”
We are surrounded by voices, pressing in to our thoughts, demanding our allegiance to their rightness. There is no lack of advice. But does any of it have authority? Plenty of the available advice is bad.
Thank God, there is an objective moral guide. How do I know? Our inner conscience testifies to it. Your conscience tells you to choose actions that you don’t like. Your inner voice would have you do the uncomfortable thing, the scary thing, the selfless thing. That selfless thing is according to a code of ethics which is outside of you or me, and in particular outside of our feelings.
There is a Moral Law, and there is a Moral Lawgiver.
Moral decisions are much too complex for such a code as DO GOOD — BE GOOD. Because of that innate regard we have for the objective law, we often know what is good. But more often, there are competing interests to consider. Most moral choices are not presented in a vacuum. How do we choose one over another? We have to compare our options to something objective before we can know what is the good.
This moral code, DO GOOD—BE GOOD, reductive and outrageously simple minded, leads to injustice and inhumanity. Why? Because in dismissal of that objective, transcendent moral law, we throw out anything which tells us what is right and wrong. We have ejected our reason. We are left with our feelings
Our feelings are undependable. They lead us wrong. And the bedrock, the absolute bottom layer of the foundation of our psyches, is how we feel about ourselves.
We love ourselves, we like ourselves, we feel good about ourselves. We can’t stand feeling bad about ourselves. We believe we do good and right things, always. Because we are us and we’re good. We’re not like those other people who are bad. We haz the vituez.
In any given moral situation, I am going to choose the option that puts me in the best light in my own mind. If we can be persuaded to believe that one side of a political issue is angelic, and the other is straight from The Devil Himself, we are sold out. Rioters want me to confirm their moral superiority to police? If I’m not objective, my need to be a morally superior person tells me what to do. No contest.
We are more committed to feeling right than to doing right.
Millions of women believe they are righteous defenders of civil human rights because they march, vote, condemn and hate in the service of the legal right to kill unborn human children. Done. And I am evil if I disagree.
Be good—do good.