23 February 2010

Morality

I often find myself defending people with whom I disagree.
I happen to have been born and raised in California, in the latter part of the 20th century.  My parents taught me that everyone deserves fair treatment and a fair chance, that we can't judge based on skin color or gender or sexual orientation or disability.  My parents taught me to ask questions.  My parents taught me to learn from others.  My parents taught me to stand up for myself.
And I believe what my parents taught me.
So I can't say for certain, that if I was raised in a different place and time, or by different people, that I wouldn't believe different things.  How do I know that if I was brought up on a cotton plantation in 1822 that I wouldn't just accept slavery as a fact, and believe that this different race of people was truly worth less?
I mean, I believe what I was taught, right?
I've never looked at the things that my parents taught me when they raised me, and viewed them as anything less than the truth, and while I would hope that I'm a strong enough person to figure things out for myself had I been brought up differently, I certainly don't have any evidence to support that claim.
So I have a hard time judging people who were raised differently from me, by different people, or in different times, as 'bad' people.  They were just following a different set of rules.  If we're talking about the present, I think that now it's our job to teach a new set of rules.
I disagree with many, many beliefs held by others, but that doesn't mean that I think those others are bad.
There is a difference between ignorance and evil.

I believe that people are good. 
I believe that even when they're doing things that society in general or I personally view as wrong, they think either that they have no choice, or that they're doing the right thing.

I believe in love.

I believe in tolerance.

I believe in education. 

I believe in understanding.

I believe in raising the best children we know how to raise.

I believe that it is our job as a society to take care of our own, including our mentally ill, our criminals, our homeless.

I believe that everyone deserves a chance.

Conversely, I don't believe that anyone has a right to infringe on the rights of others.