Another article in the same newspaper writes about morality.
Tourists behaving badly
There are plenty of other places where you can let your hair down
and indulge in what would normally be considered inappropriate,
morally-dubious or downright illegal.
I think often about the concept of morality, because my novels deal with human behavior. Morality plays a big role in each story. In many cases, moral behavior is what you can get away with if no one is looking, no finds out, or no one cares. Who decides if one country’s laws are right or wrong? Judging other country's morality/mores is a sign of arrogance. Americans and Englishmen are good at this, and are also the biggest hypocrites.
I read two articles, which covered the theme of human perception from different angles.
David Hume, in his brilliantly trenchant essay Of The Standard of Taste, who told us: “Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty.” Hume wrote that in 1757.
He may have paraphrased John Locke, who claimed something similar in 1690, in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which is quoted in the following article( http://www.the-american-interest.com/article-bd.cfm?piece=1378)
"Sound is vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear, and recognized as sound only at our nerve centers. The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound."
Absent an observer, sound, per se, does not exist.
I alluded to this in my novel, Flying’s Easy, in which the main characters concluded that they could do whatever they wanted, as long as no one else knew. Morality, like sound, does not exist without an observer.
I do not recall giving morality any thought, before I started writing trash fiction. In younger years, I was forced to listen to many sermons, which must have touched upon various facets of morality. I surely heard much about “sin” and then observed human behavior, which were not always in sync.
After reading an excellent piece by Hadley Freeman in today’s Guardian ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/21/everyones-talking-about-rape ) about one of the many jerks, who masquerade as politician, lawmaker, and “leader”, I could not help thinking about morality. I considered how flexible this facet of human life can be. Rarely are ‘different strokes for different folks’ so different, depending upon country in which you reside.
One must merely compare attitudes and laws regarding sex, religion, and gambling in a few countries, all of which have basically a long Christian heritage. And then, look at Dubai, where parallel worlds exist side-by-side with official sanction, like a Venn diagram (with the overlapping bit being the number of switch hitters or hypocrites).
Germany is a country with a high level of religious tolerance. Citizens pay a portion of their taxes to support religions. Various faiths are taught in schools. Imagine the uproar in the United States, if such practices were even suggested. Yet, the US is ostensibly far more religious than Germany. Few attend church, despite paying for the privilege. In England, where the queen is the head of the church, churches are dying out from lack of financial support.
In Germany, prostitution is legal, but almost invisible. Naked women grace the covers of most magazines, openly displayed at all sales outlets. Sex shops abound. Nakedness is a regular feature of television programs and even shows up in commercials. No one gives this a second thought. But, blatant display of private parts is found in only in sex shops, where entry is limited to adults. US versions of magazines, such as Playboy and Penthouse (when it still existed), which would shock many a gynecologist, are toned down in their German editions.
The English bet on anything and can find a betting shop on every corner. Americans must travel to a casino, even for sports betting. Sport betting in Germany is controlled by the government, with the results of soccer betting reported on the news.
Morality is a movable feast and in the eye of the beholder, if he or she chooses to even look. A crime in one country is available for all takers in another. One big factor, of course, is money--as always. Many aspects deal with how the government can monetize human desire.
In conclusion, I have a rather elastic attitude about morality, because most does not interest me. People can do what they want, as long as they do not bother me. I do not take most “moral issues” seriously, but try to play by the rules, in order to stay out of trouble with the “powers that be”.
While scanning headlines on Google News, my eyes paused momentarily on the following:
“Bill Clinton wanted to meet us: Porn starlets”
The message did not surprise me, because this man has a reputation and porn has become a regular feature of American life. I did not read the article, because this did not interest me. Still, the words made me think about how much life in American has changed.
When I was younger, airbrushed photos in Playboy were the raciest available on the open market. In college, I recall a visit to a county fair in Vermont, which featured a tent into which local farmers clambered for entry. Peeking through the entrance, when someone exited, I spotted an unattractive female displaying body parts to fuel dreams of local yokels. I had heard of “blue movies”, but had never seen one or knew where to find whatever they were. I may or may not have heard the word pornography, because it was not spoken or written about.
That has all changed. Pornography has become a topic in all media, a major profit source for hotel chains and entertainment conglomerates, and a favorite past time of millions. Cable television could probably not survive without naked flesh. The word “star”, which used to apply to serious actors or actresses (before women started using the former), has been usurped by anyone willing to strip off their clothes in front of a camera. In that case, even you or I could be stars...if so inclined to peel away our dignity for money.
It is interesting to note, that as pornography has become more socially acceptable, habits and practices of public figures have come under closer scrutiny and more criticism. What Kennedy and his ilk did with impunity has been hung around Clinton’s neck like an albatross. The only thing missing is shame.
I like attractive women as much as the next person, but I dislike the hypocrisy, greed, and exploitation.
I like pithy sayings, as one can tell from my daily post. Hundreds, even thousands, are available for re-use. I do not always agree with what I discover and only pass on those which appeal to me.
Why do I write this?
I read a quote today, which I felt needed rebutting or commenting upon. The words are attributed to someone named Thomas Macaulay. I have never heard of this guy, but I would not be surprised to discover a connection to Christianity. I do not agree with his opinion, when he allegedly said or the wrote the following:
The measure of a man's real character
is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
Why do I not entirely agree with this?
This presupposes that actions are “right” or “wrong”. Who decides? Anyone that has studied philosophy knows that there is no “right”. People can do whatever they choose, if they are willing to accept the consequences. And, the group decides morality and consequences. Without the group strait jacket, character is not a topic.
This subject is the basis of my novel, Flying’s Easy. The main character is faced with a moral dilemma, caused by witnessing different sets of morality for different parts of society and different sets of humans. He (and I) does not consider himself to be immoral, because he is acting in a similar manner to those that would judge him...if they found out.