Three Principles Living

Judith A. Sedgeman, EdD

Moral Equivalence is an Oxymoron

Moral Equivalence is an Oxymoron

We come into life with a deep, intuitive sense of what is “right.”

Philosophy expounds on morality at length. All the arguments around it are interesting diversions for the intellect. But the gut knows the truth in the moment. Right ideas, right actions, that which is in harmony with life itself, are experienced in peace and contentment, with a good feeling about ourselves and the world. Not-right ideas, not-right actions, that which is out of synch with life itself, are experienced in confusion and distress, with a troubled feeling about ourselves and the world.

Ask yourself: The last time you did or said something you “knew” deep-down was not “right,” how did you feel?

We have an internal guidance system. Wisdom, intuition, insight come to us with a beautiful, inspired feeling. That feeling tells us we’re right. As we come to understand that more and more, navigating the rocky shoals in life gets very simple. Confronted with dilemmas, we go to quiet reflection, we look to, and follow, what comes to us in peaceful, positive feelings. We recognize the “Aha!” moments that bring us solutions, and act on those. We recognize the ideas and actions that emerge from love and understanding and shared humanity, and act on those.

What is “right” is not “either-or”, “this-or-that”, “maybe-maybe not”. When we know or see that something is right, it is a solitary choice. THIS, this is right. THIS, this makes sense. THIS, this is a constructive idea. THIS, this will move us forward. THIS, this, brings us peace. It is a certainty. It arises from within us, from our own consciousness, from our connection to the order of the universe.

From this understanding, conversations about “moral equivalence” simply mean “we don’t have an answer yet and we’ve stopped wondering.” Right is clear. Moral equivalence is a pretty term for lack of clarity, absence of wisdom. Moral equivalence is a disguise for nagging insecurity that overwhelms the courage to speak what we know is right, if and when we do know it.

Insecurity is just as important a feature of our internal guidance system as beautiful feelings. The feeling of insecurity simply lets us know that our thinking is chaotic, and heading into the maelstrom that drags us down through doubt, fear, blame judgment, sadness, misery, despair. Insecurity is the harbinger of impending calamity. If we feel it coming on, though, it is our most reliable guide back home. Why? Because the feeling of insecurity dissipates quickly when the mind quiets, when stormy thinking is allowed to pass, when we settle down into reflection and wait for insight. Turning away from insecurity turns us back to our innate well-being.

What allows us to do that? A simple fact of being human: We are born into the flow of life, propelled through our part of it by the energy of the life force. We use that energy to “see” and find our way through life by forming thoughts in our own minds and then experiencing those thoughts. Insecurity is the experienced feeling of insecure thoughts. If we don’t like it, we can pause, and await new thoughts. The natural tendency of a quieter mind is clearer, more neutral thinking. That is the power of humanity, shared by all, always. Always accessible; not always accessed.

Oh, world! Oh, beautiful, troubled world! If only we could pause together, take a few moments of quiet, shut down the roaring engines of our racing minds, and hear the silence. Feel the ease. Listen for the harmony. Sense the impulse and glimpse the spark of insight. What might come of it? What healing ideas might arise? What doubts and fears and arguments might fall away? What appreciation for the powers of vision inherent in simple human being might come to light? What mental clouds, like moral equivalence, might dance across the sky into obscurity?

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