Help, I have selective morality syndrome

Manal Shakir June 17, 2010
Hi, my name is Manal, and I suffer from selective morality syndrome.

… And you may suffer from it too…

Remember when you were stopped at a red light on Ittehad last week, and it was late and no cars were on the road and there were still 20 seconds left on the traffic light timer so you thought, what the hell, might as well go, and you did, you ran the red light and got to wherever you needed to, safe and sound.

Ok now, remember earlier on in the week, when you were trying to get to the Mobilink office to pay your bill and were stopped at another red light and watched from across the way as a motorcyclist with his entire family ran a red light, and you cursed at him for running the red light and that too with his wife holding onto him with one hand and a dangling baby in the other, and another two young kids in the front. Well you should have cursed at him, and he should not have run the red light, but you my friend are a hypocrite.

And so am I.

This is what selective morality is about. We have rules and laws, and they aren’t so much there for us to choose to follow, but to be guided by, so we may have some semblance of a normal functioning society. Of course morals are not written laws, but have been ingrained in us individually and/or in our society since our inception. They are the things that make us double-minded about doing something illegal or “wrong.” It really is as simple as not paying for illegal cable and getting every channel, and not feeling bad about it, or paying for World Call and only getting one sports channel that shows the World Cup matches, because it’s the “right” thing to do.

It may seem like no big deal, and let’s face it, some rules are meant to be broken, but the fact remains, we are rule breakers when it is convenient, and we take the high road when we need to reprimand others.

You could say it’s about perspective instead of right and wrong, because of course the world is not black and white and there could be more to it. Say you were in a hurry and had to run the red light because there was an emergency, and I’m sitting here telling you you’re a hypocrite, well, shame on me. Or I could totally be correct in my assessment, and you may feel a hint of guilt? Maybe?

I guess the point is, we are a nation which suffers from selective morality, and let’s face it, who doesn’t? While reading George Fulton’s article last week about the rain in Karachi and how we only focus on the bad, it hit me, we do only focus on the bad when it suits us, and focus on the good when it suits us.

When none of the Pakistani cricket players were selected for the IPL in India, we cried foul and told our “Boays” they had been cheated. Of course, when they lost against Australia in the semi-final of the 20/20 we spat out all four letter words we could think of at them. Ok we were angry, but this emotional rollercoaster ride is not healthy, for us or for them.

And that is really how we are with each other. Whether it is our family members or strangers, it affects us socially, mentally, and politically.

For instance, we talk about democracy and all its benefits. And indeed a democratic society would be great. While there are some hiccups, most of the time people do enjoy equal opportunity and accessibility in a democracy. Children can go to school, despite social standing or ethnicity. People have the opportunity to make something of themselves despite what they are born into. People can move up in the world enjoying every luxury everyone else does. We could be complete equals. And do you know what that would mean. The child-labour you keep in your house, he could one day decide, hey you know what, I want a better life, and I want an education, so I’m leaving, and could leave you to dust the bookshelf yourself. And your maid, she could send her child to school and when her child becomes a doctor, she could be your attending physician.

And while I’m making this sound more dramatic than it really is, it’s because our society, could not handle this, because we suffer from selective morality and we like things the way they are, maid in the kitchen, driver in the car, me sipping lemonade on my couch watching TV.

I think, as a selective morality sufferer, I need to change, because that is how things will change; first, in my house, and then with the people around me, and eventually with society. It takes one person to start, and the rest will follow, hopefully.
Manal Shakir A freelance journalist in Chicago, IL who tweets @ManalShakir1
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Hunain Ali | 13 years ago | Reply I like !!
Yasser | 14 years ago | Reply be the change you wish to see in the world - i got it :) simple and to the point post (Y)
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