May 17, 2005 by Isaac Hovet
I am going to let everyone in on a conversation that I had today:
An email from a favorite friend:
In the past 2 weeks I’ve come to see how shallow of a man I am. This ethics course is hitting me harder than I expect it too. The fact it is affecting me at all is cause for concern. Aren’t we the ‘ones’ with upstanding morals already? By ‘we’ I mean Christians and in particularly You and I. Leaning a little to far to the side of self-deprecation I say this, You and I sit around talking about “higher” order thinking, but my realization is that in all of my thinking and talking, what am I doing?
I’ll comment here and say I recognize I’m headed down the right path. I just think I’m further down the path than I am.
A couple of heady dudes did a series of studies on ethics, morals and decision making. On dude came up with a model of moral development that has been proven to be consistent world wide in all cultures. The model breaks down into three levels.
Level I : Pre-conventional thinking
Level II: conventional thinking
Level III: Post-conventional thinking.
Pre-conventional thinking states the main reason behind making decisions is to avoid punishment. It’s also seen as the most self-serving of all moral developments. I do what I can to take care of my needs and only avoid doing something if it is going to cause me harm.
Conventional thinking is an attitude to keep social order. Rules and regulations are understood to be good only because they provide a social boundary for everybody to operate under. At this level people do operate out of some concern for other people. However I think in the end it is still self-serving. You don’t disrupt social order because the disruption can bring turmoil into your personal life.
The heady dude’s research showed most people never make it past Level II of moral development. (At about 9 years old people move from I to II.)
The Final level people make decisions based on a strong sense of personal values. The only time a Level III person will operate under a organizational value system is if the personal values and organizational values are a good match.
Sometimes I wonder how much my value system in personally mine. I seem to be swayed a lot by popular opinion.
Interesting thinking man.
I get a little convicted listening to you, but also see where we are trying to move to level 3. Maybe we haven’t get there (probably not), but we do ask questions a lot.
I hang my hat on being able to be uncomfortable where others aren’t comfy. We see things within Christianity that aren’t right and we are willing to, in the least talk about it, and at our best do something about it (i.e. the Bridge).
You are right, however. It can’t stop with thinking, it only, perhaps, begins there. You and I must lead by our lives too. Beyondvthe things that come easy (like I drive an economical, anti-consumerism car only by default and not because of intentional, sacrificial choice).
I am challenged to start shopping at Goodwill, not because I want to fit into retro culture, but because I want to stand against the consumerism of today. I also no longer want to where logos or name brand everything (shoes may be difficult). But, am I doing it? A little…Do I recycle? A little….Do I conserve water? No. Do I conserve gas? Not really. Do I love my neighbor as myself? When there is a BBQ or when it is convenient or when i like them anyway. So, yes, we must lead by example…when it hurts…that sucks…
I am with you man.
What do all of you think about these thoughts? I would be curious to know.