Now that we have established that a person can be a moral compass. How?
A person is a moral compass based on:
If you are a moral compass, then others are encouraged to do the right thing based on watching your behaviour. They see the way you are acting and know that they should act that way as well.
Others look to you as the example of the best way to behave.
How does this look?
This is where it gets a bit sticky (IMHO)…. some people are encouraged by your behaviour. They are pleased to know where you stand on moral issues. They willingly support and follow your lead on moral issues. However, there are other people who are put off by it. Who feel you are too rigid, or “old-fashioned,” or not enlightened… or… goody-two-shoes. This is some of the grey area.
I believe that by our actions, we are moral compasses to our children at all times. Do they always behave appropriately? No, but if you have modeled good moral behaviour, they have seen it and have a solid foundation for it.
Are we always right? Of course not. If we are trying our best to behave morally based on our own core values that we have from our own upbringing and religious training and are listening to our conscience (or, as someone pointed out, God) then our behaviours will reflect that.
Of course, you set the example and direct people to do the right things with your words. One does this all the time with their children. You do this if you are a leader with a youth organization. You do this with your friends.
Tradition in my family is a saying that has been passed down from my mother. When a teen is headed out to a dance, event, party, etc. they are reminded to stay away from the S’s and D’s. Sex, Smoking, Stealing, Drugs, Drinking, and Driving. (I have heard other families use the B’s – butts, brew, boys.)
Those are words. Encouraging the teenager to watch their actions and stay away from those dangerous and potentially immoral actions. Of course, if the parent/adult is not backing up those words with actions, they will fall of deaf ears. If one tells a teenager to stay away from smoking, but one smokes like a chimney… even though the teen/child understands the danger of smoking, a part of their brain will hold onto the fact that if mom/dad does it, it can’t be that terrible.
In my life I have always tried to be a good example. I do however feel like there are some stands that I take that are met with derision. Maybe I am not mocked openly but I feel the judgement and the guardedness people have with me. As was recently pointed out to me, it is likely that those people do not like being reminded of the moral implications of their actions. So, instead of including me, I am kept at arm’s length because they are afraid that I will judge them and tell them they are doing something “bad.”
I try really hard not to say anything. I realize that people (adults specifically) are responsible for themselves. If you are going to choose to smoke, drink excessively, sleep around… that is your choice. Do I agree with it, NOPE. Does my presence and the fact that you know that I don’t agree with those (and other) behaviours bother you? I guess that is your problem. That is where I am being a moral compass. Do I do it on purpose? NO! It is just who I am. That is the way that I am wired and the beliefs that are at the core of my being. Will my presences make you think twice about doing some of those things? It might, if you let it. If your conscience pings a bit when you pick up that 3rd, 4th or 6th drink and you happen to think of me, them maybe I am being a moral compass to you.
HOWEVER, this does feed right into that loneliness. If I am being kept at arm’s length because I disapprove of your drinking/smoking/promiscuous behaviour, then that means I am sitting at home crocheting animals for the Girl Scouts. Now, mind you, I enjoy making the animals, that is not the point. The point is, because I make you uncomfortable – or maybe because you think I would be uncomfortable with you at the restaurant/bar – I am not included. Am I saying that I WANT to go out with you when you are drinking excessively. No Thank You. What it does mean is that because I am kept at arm’s length and/or protected (maybe?) from these “immoral” things, I am therefore not included in a circle of friends.
Sticky part of this….. I do not have any desire to go out to bars. I do not want to go out with you and be the “designated driver.” That kind of behaviour is not appropriate at any age. Sorry! It just isn’t. In my “old” age, I am trying to be accepting of light/casual drinking, i.e. a glass of wine with dinner, a bottle of beer with cards. I cannot accept when the only thing you drink all day is alcohol laced beverages. I cannot accept that you regularly get drunk to excess. I cannot accept that you might drive after drinking, even just one glass/bottle causes impairment. I do not understand, nor do I really want to understand, the need for so many activities to involve alcohol. I am really, really trying to learn to be more tolerant of this. I suppose, however, if you know me and know my stance and it bothers you… then does it bother you because I am being a moral compass pointing you to what is more right? Or does it bother you because you think I am wrong and thus not worthy of inclusion? Or does it just make you uncomfortable to be around me?
It seems that in some other people’s “old” age, they are becoming less tolerant of me and respectful of my stand. In my very small circle of friends/family I see more and more behaviour that was curtailed years ago in deference to my feelings now being openly flaunted/tolerated. Not sure where to go with that… other than just when I’m trying to respect others more, I am clearly dismissed for my beliefs.
So much more to explore…..