UCTAA churchlight

Site Search via Google

Reflection 22 (p10 - cont)
Why Do Right? A Secularist's Answer

To open a discussion on this article, please use the contact page to provide your comments.

Regard for the moral law is not based upon a negation, neither is it a mere question of expediency, but rather a positive acting principle, working for practical goodness. A really moral man is one who is interested in the well-being of others -- one who has discovered that he belongs to the family of men, the social advancement of which is dependent, more or less, upon each other. Unsocial beings are those who care for nobody but themselves, and whose sense of right-doing consists in studying their own interests without concerning themselves about the welfare of others. Emerson said: "I once knew a philosopher of this kidney. His theory was, 'Mankind is a damned rascal. All the world lives by humbug; so will I.'" Fortunately, individuals of this type are becoming fewer and fewer, and are being replaced by men and women in whom are to be found aspirations for the true, the useful, and the elevating functions of life. To such members of the human family as these it can be made evident that truth and honor are essential to their well-being. and that doing good is an absolute necessity to the formation and the perpetuation of a society based on confidence and trust. The virtue of veracity is the foundation of the true social fabric. Law, commerce, friendship, and all the embellishments of life rest upon the great principle of veracity. It is this which gives the surest stability to all moral obligation. While being faithful to ourselves, we should never fail to manifest fidelity in our associations with all members of the community. Our aim ought always to be to so serve others that we may help ourselves, and to so serve ourselves as to be helpful to others. As Pope puts it: --

"Self-love and social is the same."

Emerson has said: "The mind of this age has fallen away from theology to morals. I conceive it to be an advance." Undoubtedly this is true, for the intellect of the age is more than ever finding its justification for being good in the results of action, rather than in the commands of creeds and dogmas. The inspiration to goodness is now recognized as coming from earth, not heaven; from man, not God. As a recent writer well puts the fact: "It is not a belief in an arbitrary personal God which ennobles a life. Most of the burglars and murderers, most of the unjust monopolists and cruel sweaters, believe in 'God.' It is goodness that ennobles a life, and goodness is not necessarily associated with godliness. It is not a hope of heaven that makes a life beautiful. Many who believe in heaven are very hard to live with here. It is gentleness, kindness, considerations, friendliness, love, that make a life beautiful; and these qualities are not necessarily associated with a hope of heaven. It is not piety that wins esteem. There are many pious persons whom you would not trust with a five pound note. It is fair dealing, honesty, and fidelity that win esteem and they are not associated with piety."

(Next page)