We hope this isn’t a revelation (or a Book of Revelation): these are incredibly challenging times. Between all the various wars – and forms of war – being fought all around the globe and all around our quotidien lives – it would be easy to back into a corner defensively or strike out wildly or shut down completely. It’s hard enough figuring out what’s the best thing to do in even one of these situations. What if we aspire not so much to do the “best” thing (after all, what is our metric for “best”?) but the most right thing? The most moral?
Sometimes the most moral choice doesn’t look like the “best” choice. The moral choice is often the hardest. The least fun. How can that make anything “best”?
As we all know, harder than living with others is living with ourselves when we’re not happy with ourselves. Good thing most of us have a handy-dandy moral compass inside of us (hopefully it’s turned on) to help navigate these tricky shoals.
So, where does the term “moral compass” even come from? Turns out in 1824, an anonymous English author (a self-defined deist), writing in Essays on the Universal Analogy between the Natural and Spiritual World was the first to use “moral compass” in his essay “Parallel between Magnetism and Electricity, Natural and Spiritual”.
“He perceives that the centre between these two extremes or poles, is this divine truth, ‘thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ He then sees that the meridian of his moral compass from east to west is the true line of religion, at right angles to that of morality.”
As we’ll discuss in this episode, though the term “moral compass” has a religious origin, one does not need to have religion or be religious to have a moral compass inside of them.
What does it mean to have a “moral compass”? How does it impact us? How does it guide us? How does it show us the way?
But, what if you look to your hand (to where your compass usually sits) and you see either yours is missing or it’s there but, clearly, it isn’t working right. What good is a moral compass that can’t guide you?
And, can a simple gadget really deliver the perspective necessary to be a good person?
Or, if you’d prefer to watch…