I hear it so frequently, I’m sometimes even warned: The world is a bad place, therefore you need to be bad too.
People often use it to justify their morally grey, questionable actions. They also use adages like Straight trees are cut first. And justify doing evil: So be crooked.
By following this, you don’t improve the world, you make it worse
Before going into ethics and morals, let’s consider a simple idea:
Consider a dirty, polluted lake. You go to this lake and argue that it’s very dirty and throw your garbage in it. Now answer: Did your throwing garbage in it cleaned the lake? Did it make the water clearer? Or did you spoil the lake further? And if you’d instead picked up a piece of trash and disposed it off properly, wouldn’t it have made the lake even a bit cleaner than before?
Do you get it? Same is with the world. If the world is a bad place, by being bad in it. you make the world worse. You are being part of the very problem you’re stating and basing your actions on.
Be Better – You Owe it to Yourself, Your Children and the Next Generation
“You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.” ― Eliezer Yudkowsky
Stop blaming the world for your weak value system. It’s too easy to point at your parents, your hometown, your culture, your country, the society, the system – and say your actions are all influenced by them and you’re simply doing what they’ve taught you. It’s an excuse to avoid moral growth, take responsibility and at least partake in solving a problem you’re already admitting.
Free yourself from shackles of your upbringing. And remove the vestiges of morally dubious teachings. Don’t let the shortcomings of society limit you for life. You owe it to yourself to be the master of your actions and be morally better than the people and place you were born in.
Our Obligation to the Next Generation
“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
Consider that the world you’d help build and leave is the world inherited by your children and the next generation. If you leave a world where it’s ok to do bad by making excuses and if same sentiment is shared by many people, you folks set humanity to a progressive descent and an ultimate doom.
It never seems a little lie will bring the doom of the world but it ever so slightly slides the world on that path. But on the bright side, so does every little act of kindness and righteousness. Be mindful that every small act sets off ripples of consequences in motion, not all of them are direct & obvious.
Leave the world a bit better than you were born in.
“But people will take advantage of us”
“You can lie down for people to walk on you and they will still complain that you’re not flat enough.”
Among all righteous and virtuous aspects, being kind and helpful is criticized most; in regard of others taking advantage of us. It probably happens and I understand that being completely selfless is not possible and can be fatal.
This is why we need to set boundaries and communicate it to people what is acceptable and what is not. It can be difficult sometimes and we may overthink how others would feel but we can’t pour from an empty cup and we can’t let others walk all over us. We owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves.
This said, the other aspects of being good don’t prevent you from following them anyway: being respectful, earnest, helpful and virtuous.
Finally, know that the world is becoming much better day by day
“The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” – Timbuk3. heh
Poverty has reduced, crimes have reduced, healthcare is improving in different aspects – we’ve reduced child mortality, we’ve almost cured many diseases like polio, smallpox, we’ve increased life spans and decreased deaths due to many diseases. We’ve improved literacy and education’s reach. More people live in democracies than autocracies and tyrannies, people have more freedom. Racism, sexism and other biases are reducing. Cleaner energy is getting cheaper. [Sources: 1, 2]
All this didn’t happen magically. If everyone thought that the world is a bad place and then would choose to do a bad deed, then the world would not have seen such a tremendous positive transformation. You ought to stop deluding yourself and start improving your value system.
Final note by Epictetus to make you think more on being morally strong:
“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.”
– Epictetus, Enchiridion.
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Till the next time, keep improving yourself, stay positive, see the joy around you, radiate happiness, stay emotionally resilient, take good care of yourself and keep trailing on your Untrailed Path.