Ideals and ethics

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By: Salil Saroj

Usually, these two subjects appear to be the same, but understanding the difference between the two definitely helps in following moral values. Every person lives with certain ideals, even if those ideals do not prove worthy of conduct for others. Ideals are the rules that help us in our life to reach decisions that show which things should be given priority in our life. For example – one man lives with integrity, with all the hardships, with the values of moving forward, and the other man is living with the ideals that life must be lived happily even if it is to be achieved by wrong means, because the other person believes that life is found once, so somehow live with happiness. The first man does not belong to the ideals of the second man because he is living the values of Gandhiji; he believes that only attainable should not be right, but also the means of attainment must be correct. If the money receivable is to be earned, the means should not be illegal or the money should not be acquired by infringing on someone else’s rights. The first man believes that if something is achieved in a wrong way, then it will bring wrong results, so it is not possible to live with the ideals with which the other man is living.
The most esoteric question is, under what circumstances does a man make or choose his ideals. Adult human ideals are established by their conscience and intelligence while a child learns by looking around him, his parents, his neighbors, and his school. The ideals of the child are that he too should get all the things that the other child is getting. He does not know whether the child is wealthier, has a disability or has grown up in some other upbringing. Therefore, a child chooses ideals and does not create. If an adult wants to live with truth or falsehood in life, then he makes this decision himself. However, it is quite possible that one man is influenced to a great extent by the ideals of another man and tries to live by adopting his own ideals. But then there is a question whether those who are unable to decide for themselves, can they fall into the category of human beings. If there is any difference between humans and animals, machine then it is the ability to think. Gautama Buddha said – I am because I can think. The great sociology scientist Foucault had said that we continue to be as we think. We are all slaves to our thinking. Therefore, we have to think only if it is not for the society, it is at least beneficial for ourselves and should be devoid of danger. If the ability of thinking in human is destroyed, then he is bound to fall into the category of animal. When the convicts of Nirbhaya, when forgetting their conscience and reached the decision of rape and then inhuman acts, then they definitely fell into the category of animals. However, it is a different question that in which society he lived, how he got his ideals and that ideals have been overpowered by someone else or he chooses it for himself. Social and mental study of any crime is very important so that the mental nature of violence is understood, these criminals should be stopped before the crime is committed and the youth power of the country can be diverted in the right direction. It is a matter of great concern under which circumstances ideals are being formed. If a woman believes prostitution to be right, then the first question should be why she thinks so. What are the factors behind it – poverty, male dominated society, social violence, neglect, and unsuccessful marital life, any other pressure or self will, and then it will be easy to decide whether case by case prostitution is right or wrong. On the same, if a woman is born in an elite family, has a good upbringing, is well educated, earns well and has a good identity and reputation in the society, then society would never expect that woman to go for prostitution, extramarital affairs, polygyny or inter-homosexuality. Still, if the woman is involved in all these things, then the crime will be explained differently in the mirror of the society. It may have been discarded by wearing the freshness of modernity, or as a master of Westernism, but both women are right in their place of ideals or both women are just and only wrong. Ideals are not born in an empty vessel. The ideals are born in a vessel that already contains the components of many promises such as truth, lies, feminism, masculinity, nationalism, socialism. Therefore, it is not only meaningless to determine the destiny of ideals in isolation but it is also a humanly heinous crime.
Ethics is a measure of the structure of human values. Human values are sympathy, kindness, forgiveness, affection, reconciliation etc. Human morality also has to go through difficult paths at times. Someone’s ideals are to speak the truth and its moral will be that you will live a life of peace. If ideals are trees, then morality is their fruit. But does the morality of telling the truth really bring peace. There was no peace due to Kunti speaking and accepting the truth that Karna is her son, but only a great war like Mahabharata took place out of that. The governments of many countries collapsed after the truth was revealed under the Panama Papers. And then it is said that the lie that saves someone’s life is bigger than the truth. Then the difference between truth and falsehood seems to end. Ethics also suggests reducing the gap between what is and what should be. Being lied to and told the truth, whether this gap will be less than a person telling the truth, or a person telling the truth, or a judge or police telling the truth, or will it be only by telling the truth by the women or by telling the truth by those who have always been suppressed. The morality of any society, so that a better society can be imagined, will be fulfilled only by the collective morality of the whole society. Let this matter be understood from another position. The policy says that teachers should teach the children well in class so that the child can pass with good marks, but many teachers do not teach the children properly so the children are forced to cheat in the examinations. And a person is voluntarily willing to make such children cheat because he believes that if the children fail not because of their weakness but because of some other reason, tomorrow they will have disharmony towards the nation and society, some will be involved in criminal activities and some will also carry out acts like Nirbhaya and this will cause great harm to the society. Be making them passed, given a job; these children may be stopped from become criminals. Then the question is also what will happen to the children who were rightly responsible for that job. Will they not be deranged and become criminals tomorrow? The deep question is whether the morality of the child is in doubt or the morality of the man who has committed the crime of making the children cheats in the examination. Significantly, here morality becomes “conditional”. The morality of one becomes dependent on the other.
If the earlier policy was correct, then the second policy would have been correct by itself. If you look at it another way, you will know how dangerous it is. If your morality is dependent on another, about whom you do not know or can do anything, then you become a slave to others and too without needlessly knowing.
So what is the way to live properly or to live “practically”? I remember the Talisman of Mahatma Gandhi here. Before taking any step, remember the face of the man whom you have felt the most exploited in your life, and then you will never take such a step so that the poor person is offended. Ideals show whom to give importance to in our life; whereas morality shows to what extent those attributes are right or wrong. In my sense, we should follow the Buddha’s Middle Way. You should follow the ideals and morality as far as possible. Do not do anything that is bad for a person who is not going to be asked, not to be seen by anyone in his entire life span, that means a person who is living life in a pathetic condition, because only it is possible and this is also “practical”. (The writer is an Executive Officer of Lok Sabha Secretariat, Parliament House Annexe, New Delhi)

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