Why morality matters? Why do I even bother? Why can't a married man cheat and keep a mistress on the side? Why can't a woman lie to get her way? Why can't I enrich myself financially without worrying about how my actions may hurt others? Why should I lend a helping hand and be inconvenient, get left behind or feel embarrassed? Why should I be an honest loser when I can easily be a dishonest winner and get away with it? If everybody is doing it and gets away with it, why can't I do the same and get away with it? Why morality matters? Why do I even bother?
Apart from religion, the atheist's value system or the evolutionary theory that theorizes that our human survival/thriving depends more on an altruistic society than one of crooks and free-loaders, do I really need to live morally? Or ought I live morally? How does it benefit me to live within my moral conscience?
Well, if anything, morality matters. I say this not because big daddy is watching. I say this not because it feels just right. I say this not because vices always pay homage to virtues. I say this not because virtues are endearing and vices are frowned upon. And neither do I say this because I have thus far kept my hands and nose clean. Far from it actually.
Morality matters because it is personal to me. I am married with three young children. I have a career of helping people with their legal issues. I am a close friend to a handful of friends. I am a colleague and an employee. I am a husband to my wife and a father to my children. I am a son, a brother and a citizen of a democratic nation. I am therefore accountable to all of them.
No doubt, I can perform those roles just as well even if I’d only pay lip service to morality and live my life as if it doesn’t apply to me. I can be furtive about my flirtations, discreet about my indiscretions and deceptive about my duplicity. No one will ever find out. I can outdo, outplay and outwit the whistle blowers. I can always be a step ahead of the rules, the law and even my conscience. I can be living a double life, upholding a double standard and maintaining a crafty balance of my double-mindedness. In short, I can still be accountable to all of them even if I am not accountable to myself. I can gag up my conscience, anesthetize the cognitive dissonance and remain in a blissful state of willful blindness. No one would be the wiser. Indeed, my tempter may be my choir and my adviser.
But herein lies a danger when morality turns over. It is a very thin line and once I cross it, I will lose myself in it. I will enter a world whereby I am no longer the decider of my life. In fact, I have to share it with something outside of myself. Something that demands its fair share from me. Something that grows bigger each day.
But this partnership, however unearthy, plays an insidious game with me. And it remains gentlemanly about it. It will make me feel as if I am in control. It will give me this illusion of power. It will make all I want readily within my reach and it will ensure that my lust for them grows far beyond my understanding of it. This game that this partnership has to offer will not cease until it elevates me to a point where I am empowered by this impervious sense of invincibility. At this point, at this turn of event, the gentleman becomes the rogue and the puppet becomes the puppet master. And I, once the hunter, will become the hunted in the same way that the stalker becomes the prey.
Once I lose my conscience or sell it away to the highest bidder, I will lose what it means to live without envy, to love without conditions, and to give without expectations. My humanity will be indistinguishable from my inhumanity. I will live with the dichotomy of conflicts and the demons in my mind will make my pillow hard, my dreams desperate and my sleep restless.
I imagine my conscience as the canary of the mines in my spirit. Once the canary dies, my inner world will collapse without any warning. And I will never know about it because a dead canary makes no noise. I will be lost yet never knowing why. I will be broken yet pretending that all’s swell. I will be tormented yet unable to relieve the pain. I will be constantly shifting in the shadows of deceit, avoiding the light of truth that shines through the cracks of my many varied personas.
So, why morality matters? Why do I even bother? Why should I give a second look? It matters because I cannot be perfect. So, the next best thing to perfection is to live a life pursuing incorruption. I believe that living with a moral conscience and applying it when the time comes will not guarantee me riches. Neither gold nor silver. It will not bestow unto me power nor elevate me to fame at the finest hour. I may even live an ordinary life and possibly be mocked and dismissed for being a loser, a coward or an underachiever.
But still I prefer the road less travelled. It is a road that eschews the many apocryphal things this world has to offer. It is a road that refuses to bargain off what truly matters in this life at a price I cannot afford to pay if I earnestly treasure the things that money cannot buy. There will therefore be many fork in the road that challenges me to choose between two opposing values; one questionable and the other irreproachable. And when the time comes for me to choose, I shall consciously choose what is right and live with its consequences nevertheless because choosing otherwise will only mean that my humanity is for sale. And it is for sale to the highest bidder.
No doubt I may be enriched beyond my wildest imagination. I may even live an easy life thereafter. But I will forever be a slave to riches, fame and power because I have lost the values to resist them. More importantly, I will never know what it means to be free. And never knowing freedom is never knowing what it means to be me. Cheerz.