A Look back at Morality, six years later — Draft 2
Black and white.
A light switch, flicked on and off. White and black. A child with earbuds, standing at the doorway alone, hypnotically observing the light bulbs as they flick on and off, dark to light, until the sounds of his parents yelling at him to go to sleep reach his ears.
We were all like this once, born a blank slate, taught to believe in the messages of black and white, our favorite TV shows and movies reinforcing kindness versus selfishness, understanding over hatred. We like to think that we’ve changed, that over time, we’ve grown older and wiser and have a better grasp of morality.
But how much do we truly understand morality? It’s been thousands upon thousands of years since respected philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Confucius, and Aristotle first came up with theories of individuality and morality, and yet after thousands of years we still haven’t changed or advanced psychologically.
Why is that? After all, humanity is known for evolving at a breakneck pace, how is it that with every single evolution we undergo, we still can’t exterminate the evil in this world? And if there’s anything we can do to better the situation, what can we do?
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I’m 12, standing starry eyed at the admissions office of my new school. I had no experience with the american school system, in fact, this would be the first time that I would ever interact with a pure american student-base, and the fact that I had a reputation also made it harder. I was a kid who was very emotional, very out of control, and the fact that I was moving from a very student-specific and privately paid education system to a government funded and general school meant that this transition was going to be very difficult for me.
And it was. Coming from a very multicultural and specific place meant that I was accustomed to more introverts, people who had no idea of the surrounding community and therefore were more likely to turn, people more awkward and less brash.
So naturally the brashness of my new peers came as a shock. While I was a pretty good actor, if I do say so myself, and was able to adapt pretty easily, there were often so many times where I’d feel alienated and different. And while I took pride in these differences and the experiences that had shaped me into who I was, what I really felt was loneliness, a massive emptiness filling my stomach.
I tried making friends, I really did, but the friends I always had were people that I forced myself to like, like making myself believe that as long as I make more friends or faked more personalities that this hunger would just sort of… disappear.
But as I found out, it wouldn’t. No, instead of getting rid of the lingering emptiness all it would do was make it so much worse. The more time I spent with people the more pain I felt, the laughter and joy, the families acting genuinely proud of their child stabbed into my gut.
Alienation led to anger, anger led tothe birth of passion and ideas, ideas that broke moral boundaries for me but also were also unpredictable, unorganized and hard to understand, even for the person who came up with the ideas in the first place.
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What am I looking for?
That empty pit in my stomach, what is it exactly that I’m missing?
These are the questions that I’ve pondered upon for so many years of my life. Yes, I knew I was looking for something, but I didn’t know what that something was, and yet trying to look for it came so naturally to me that I had no choice but to follow that path not knowing where to go.
I knew that expressing my emotions, whether it was in singing, writing, or acting was things that I enjoyed, things that got me into a magical state, but at the same time I wasn’t particularly confident in those areas. I only wrote and sang as a means for me to express myself, nothing more.
I wasn’t confident in myself, an unconfident scared kid would only do what others only told me to do, and even then, I’d mess up the instructions that were clearly placed in front of me, causing me to lose confidence and self worth.
Perhaps I was looking for proof of my own existence. In searching to satisfy other’s desires, maybe I was trying to prove to the world and myself I was here, that I existed, and could be a useful tool to society.
It wasn’t easy. In my path to even understand what I was looking for I went through insurmountable amounts of humbling pain, and I learned that what people say don’t always match what they actually want and want you to do. Humans are fickle and unpredictable, and it makes it harder to understand what they truly want but I made it my goal to understand, to help people in a way where they could see me, and enjoy my presence. I wanted a person who was trusted, a shoulder to lean on so that other people would take notice and enjoy my presence. Maybe I was a puppet, maybe I was purposely stepping all over myself so I could give the remote to people I thought could change my life, but all I wanted was to understand as an example, as a tool, because if someone as useless as me can understand and emphasize, then so can you.
And yet no matter what I tried, no matter the amount of empathy I used and how much I tried to understand others, nothing would change. People would still look at me as the odd one out, they wouldn’t even try to understand me, even when I’ve dedicated so much time and effort to try and understand them.
It first turned to denial, then a fiery rage and a keen depression. I had put so much work into understanding people, gone through so much pain only to have people sneer at me at the door, sneer at my work, laugh at me for trying so hard at something I desperately wanted to do.
I started writing, singing, talking with rage. Anger built up like a volcano, there were multiple times when it would blow up into insurmountable amounts of anger, lashing out at my parents, collapsing on the floor. My rage gave birth to ideas, it would give birth to most of my founding ideals but did not give me an outlet. I was left aside with my failing grades and bright ideas.
I started hating humanity. I started hating people for not understanding, hating people for the pure reason that they hadn’t listened to a word I said. I trusted my own mortality so much that I scoffed at the others who had personal opinions of their own, in a weird, fucked up way I unconsciously thought that people who had never gone through the pain that I had shouldn’t be allowed to feel good about themselves when I had never felt good about myself either.
Is it really right? Sure, maybe I was able to understand people better, and maybe most of my ideas did raise a good point, but was it really right for me to reach levels of arrogance that I genuinely thought that the people around me could not be trusted to make the judgements and decisions of the world?
I guess, if I would answer this question myself, if I was the dictator of the world who could make any change in life I want so that I could make it so that no one would ever give their own opinion again and I was the main leader, is that really a perfect world, or my vision of a perfect world?
This is a sentiment echoed in so many different shows, Evangelion, with the human instrumentality project. Code Geass, Death Note, what if we seized control of the world, and attempted to make the world perfect in our eyes?
It would quickly be apparent to us that the world can never be truly what we desire. So in order to achieve what we desire, we lie, we manipulate, we steal, and we kill to force humankind to the perfect world we want to see, or, instead, we fall to our destructive desires, and destroy the entirety of humanity.
It’s not right, because we’re human. There can never be a singular person taking control of the world even if he truly believes he’s doing is right, because that person can never truly account for the emotions and feelings of over 8 billion people
Yeah, sure the truth is that these opportunities will never present themselves and we will never have to make these choices. But what happens when these opportunities do come? Maybe I’ll always convince myself that they won’t happen, that I will stand for humanity, but when the time comes, am I really sure that’s what I’m going to do?
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It’s been almost six years since I first came to the United States and started my journey. Six years filled with rage and anger, discovery and destruction, anxiety and depression, and I think I’ve finally figured out what that obvious hunger and feeling of something missing was.
The final stage, the barrier between a person’s primitive needs and our emotional needs is our desire for understanding.
When given the opportunity, we’ll talk and talk and talk in hopes to get others to feel the same emotions that we might feel. We do things for attention in hopes that people will look deeper and see why we look for their attention. We study hard so that people will look past the smoke and mirrors and instead see all the blood, sweat and tears we put into the work we are passionate about.
When given understanding, we think that everything will fall in place. If we’re understood and people are proud of us, then we can have the go ahead to do so much more.
The curse of being human is that we can never truly understand each other. We place our expectations in a place where we will never be high enough, people will never understand us enough, and we will always feel unsatisfied about who we are.
The bottom line is that understanding has to come from yourself. You can expect other people to understand you if you can’t even understand and forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made along the way.
And maybe with self actualization, we’re able to find something that we love, people to relate to. After the experiences of hatred of humanity, hatred of the government, hatred of ourselves, maybe we’ll grow to become more empathetic of other people.
Humanity always takes the route of expecting other people to understand them. They’ll do things so that people will take notice, and as hard as they try, they never progress from this one sided way of looking at things, and they think that that is the key to world peace, a world where everyone understands each other.
What if, instead, we strove for ourselves? What if, with all the things that we’ve learned and accomplished, we learned to love ourselves, and understand ourselves, so we can have a greater appreciation and understanding of the people around us?
We can’t just sit by, doing things that we think that other people would like seeing us doing, and expect world peace to just suddenly, happen.
We have to take the path that we never understood, in our desire to put ourselves down in favor of other people, that we never knew was even possible.
To achieve world peace, first we must achieve peace within ourselves.
To achieve world peace, we must first learn how to love ourselves.