The Moral Compass
I have this device called a Moral Compass. You probably do, too. Most of us have them, in fact. And they’re really useful things to have around – they sort of let us know what the right thing to do is, which is very handy in this crazy, mixed-up world.
But the problem is, Moral Compasses don’t always point due north, as it were. Or, rather, one person’s due north is another person’s sou’sou’east. Whatever, the point is they don’t all point the same way. For instance, there are people out there who are quite prepared to strap a bomb to their chest and detonate it in a cafe. Now, I totally get the reason why, I really do. I can even empathise with these people. But it isn’t the way my Moral Compass points and I would be hard-pressed to find a situation where I’d approve of that. If you are one these people, rest assured that I find it equally repulsive when other people bomb your village from thirty thousand feet and then refer to what’s left of everyone you knew as “collateral damage” or “insurgents”. My Moral Compass doesn’t point that way at all, for which I am eternally grateful.
The Moral Compass is a very tricky device, and sometimes it leads us astray, but though it may be a flawed tool, it’s the best that many of us have. But because it is so tricky, I generally refer to it in only two situation: when I am not remotely sure of what I should do; and when I am absolutely sure of what I should do. Those are the times when the Moral Compass is most useful.
But it is flawed, nevertheless, and has a tendency to drift over time. And so, therefore, sometimes it needs calibration from an external reference point. My reference point is a chap by the name of John Chinaman.
You may have met John Chinaman – he does get around, certainly. I keep bumping into him wherever I travel. And the nice thing about John Chinaman, is that his Moral Compass always points 180 degress the opposite of what I want mine to point to. I just compare my Moral Compass to his, and if they are not 180 degrees in opposition, then I know it’s mine that needs adjusting, because John Chinaman’s Moral Compass hasn’t shown any change since the dawn of time.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are lost as to the correct course of action, or alternatively are so very certain of yourself that you cannot be persuaded of another’s viewpoint, then take a look at John Chinaman’s Moral Compass and adjust your course accordingly.
There’s something in that for all of us.