Moral Dichotomies, Or Values, Or Moral Guidelines Or
Simply an Academic Moral Compass
A Set of Useful Dichotomies for All,
But Addressing Mainly a University Audience
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time.
Trying to Take the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And Which One Does Not?)
It does not matter what University classes you are teaching or taking and where. What matters in these times of Coronavirus is that in everything you do, you DO THE BEST YOU CAN.
And if you are a student,
- Do the Readings associated with all your classes.
- Listen intently to the Lectures, and with Focus and Concentration.
- Take careful Notes.
- If it is a Skype class, or any of its sisters or cousins like Zoom or WebEx or something else, make your presence in class known, and felt, by speaking up. Do not forget it is also part of your Participation Grade.
- And by keeping your Video On – so professors will know you are there, and you are paying attention, and taking notes, and YOU ARE NOT PLAYING WITH YOUR CELL PHONE OR SOMETHING ELSE.
At the same time, bear in mind that expertise alone is not everything in life, including Academic Life. You must understand that Knowledge is only one requirement in life. The other requirement is Values.
Without Values, an Expert Safe Breaker is nothing but a Thief and a Burglar.
As a Student, or Professor, or Wall Street Banker, what sets Good Guys apart from Bad Guys are Values. Otherwise, with or without Knowledge, Training and Expertise, they are all Crooks of varying kinds and degrees – in their own respective fields.
So, for all my classes, this Semester and beyond, here is a set of simple Dichotomies that my students can use to help with their Values – now and in future, in my classes and elsewhere.
Dichotomies means concepts divided into two, like This and That; Here and There; and so on.
Here is a set of five Moral Dichotomies that should help everyone with their Values:
- Good and Bad.
- Right and Wrong.
- Honest and Dishonest.
- Just and Unjust.
- True and False.
Call them Moral Guidelines if you will. Taken together, they can work as your Moral Compass. They will help you to do the Right Thing.
Without a sound Moral Compass, individuals, groups, institutions, cultures and societies are Lost Souls. They all suffer from what President Carter once called a Malaise. And what could easily be described as a Sickness of the Soul or Disease of the Spirit.
A Moral Decay of some kind. And we in the United States seem to be perilously teetering at the edge of that.
Stated a bit strongly, they are all Moral Actors and Agents – basically Good People, if you want to call them that – lying in wait for an opportunity to arise so they can all do the Wrong Thing – safely and get away with it.
Most people, most of the time, know what these concepts are, and they understand the difference between them, and most people do so almost by instinct.
Homes, Educational Systems and Societies reinforce them through extended training and socialization, including Focused and Targeted Moral Training.
Most people, most of the time, when they violate these Moral Guidelines, know almost instinctively that they are doing something Wrong. They are doing something they should not be doing.
In the absence of a strong Moral Hand from their Society and Culture reaching out to grab them, and hold them back, they all run the risk of falling prey to the urge of the moment to do things they know, and they feel in their bones, to be Wrong.
My Advice to all my Students then is this:
Take the First Column from this Five-Part Moral Compass and stick to the ideas and concepts that first column contains.
Meaning, to the Extent You Can:
- Do Good, avoid doing Bad.
- Do Right, avoid doing Wrong.
- Be Honest, avoid being Dishonest.
- Be Just, avoid being Unjust.
- Embrace Truth, reject Falsehood.
And let me assure you that a life lived in the pursuit of Goodness, Honesty, Justice and Truth, and trying to Do The Right Thing, is not a bad life at all.
Such a life could even be Fun. All you need to do is give it a shot.