Assuming that all of us agree with the universal fact that change is the only constant, morality / ethics / values too keep evolving with time.
Take for instance a scenario in present day urban India – A widow finds love and sets out to dream of a happy life all over again. Today, the widow won’t find much resistance in acting out on her dream. But if we place the same widow in our recent past where widows were isolated from rest of society and were expected to live a life devoid of personal freedom, where widow re-marriage was a taboo, forget even considering it a possibility. As a society, how do we end up judging the same widow for living her own life in a different time?
Morality / Ethics / Values are subjective features and hence invalid units of measurement when it comes to judging people’s behaviour, yet we end up judging others based on our own brand of ethics.
Each generation has a majority that swims with the flow of acceptance in society. This type of people is an adaptive breed, which bends according to the set of rules they are accepted to follow. On a practical note, this approach works on a larger scale, as the strong current of the already established flow takes these people ahead in their present-day social aspects while holding them back in a more pronounced way by stopping the evolution of their souls.
Each generation also has a minority that do not fit in the set norms of society. These individuals are mostly those who are in constant process of knowing themselves, accepting their true selves and keeping in sync with evolution of their concentrated individualistic personas. In this type of people, the risks are high in terms of their social growth but I doubt if that factor matters to these specimen. The need to know one-self generally has its roots in the friction with one’s immediate surroundings and sometimes within one-self. Almost always, the process starts with the ability to question the accepted forms of living.
So in both cases there is growth in some aspects and downfall in other aspects. At the end it depends on what we held important in our personal development. And these values that individuals held important in their personal development eventually alter the way societies evolve.
So whenever I lay my hands on Morality in my psychological toolbox, I tend to set it aside and pick up Empathy instead, which I find to be a more powerful tool when it comes to understanding the choices that people make. And believe me, ‘Understanding’ is a more efficient way of life than ‘Judging’ can ever be.