, Research Paper
Most of us today have a system of ethical and religious beliefs. These beliefs can be altered or changed depending on the influences that we are presented with. The way that we view right from wrong has to do with these influences. These issues surround us on a daily basis. Our personal choices may seem to be unconscious or unchanging, but why then do we always choose the same answer. These systems of beliefs can be transmitted to us in many ways and many of our choices can cause us to test our ethical assumptions and values. For example, if you believed in non-violent acts, what would you do if someone threatened your loved ones? Personal ability to resolve these problems depends on your amount of knowledge, the experiences you have had and on how well formulated your system of beliefs are. The influences that cause us to make these decisions are family, religion and our culture.
First of all our families can contribute the knowledge that they have to help us decide what is right and what is wrong. We look to our parents on a daily basis as role models. They have been there since we were born and we have not had too many other adult influences. The essay by Robert Coles, entitled, ?I Listen to MY Parents and Wonder what They Believe,? he talks about how children are taught from a young age to honor their parents. ?But you should honor your father and mother most of all; that is why you should find out what they believe and sort of copy them.? (Pg. 338) The Sunday school teacher who said this is telling the children to believe in the same things that their parents do. By doing this, she is instilling the parents? beliefs in the children. ?The girl [a child] understood how boys and girls all over the world ?sort of? develop attitudes of what is right and what is wrong.? (Pg. 338) The children begin to understand right form wrong because of their parents? actions. Parents also mold their children and give them certain moral standards to live by. Many of these moral values stay with the children into their adult years. ?In many homes parents establish moral assumptions, mandates and priorities.? (Pg. 339) Do?s and don?ts have been pressed onto children for years. Rights and wrongs are usually handed down rules that parents have accepted and believe through the same process. Our parents teach us what to believe and what not to believe and why. They may use many different ?props? like the bible, American History and personal memories in an effort to teach us how to believe. They also teach us what and who to respect and for what reasons. Coles believes that ?children long for words of moral advice, instruction and warning?? (Pg. 339) He tells us how he believes that children need help to decide between right and wrong.
Secondly, our personal religious views and beliefs can make a difference in choosing right from wrong. Religion and politics is a main issue that is debated in the world of rights and wrongs. In the essay, ?The Culture of Disbelief? by Steven L. Carter he states, ?Contemporary American politics face few greater dilemmas than deciding how to deal with the resurgence of religious belief.? (Pg. 373) He is showing us how we do not really want to deal with the issue of religion because it is so complex. When religion appears it makes it harder to choose right from wrong. This is one of the biggest problems out there today. Many people tie in their personal beliefs when making a choice having to do with politics. This is such an important issue because most Americans today cherish religion. ??Which is why we justly celebrate a strong tradition against state interference with private religious choice.? (Pg. 373) Religion makes people choose a certain political leader because of their religious beliefs. This is when there is a fine line between right and wrong and where it becomes an important choice. People?s personal rights and wrongs can influence politics. ?Religion matters to people, it matters a lot.? (Pg. 374) Religious importance is more noticeable today than ever before. People plan activities and important events around their religious holidays. ??Strong majorities of citizens tell pollsters that their religious beliefs are of great importance to them in their daily lives.? (Pg. 374) ?Consider the matter of religious holidays?? (pg. 380) At Berkley, a professor scheduled an important exam on Yom Kippur knowing that most of his Jewish students would be absent. When the professor did this, he made the students? struggle with more of a personal conflict rater than a public one. This exam made them choose between their education and their religious beliefs. This is the price of faith. This choice can be right or wrong depending on your personal choice. Our personal code of ethics often had a religious grounding. Our religion often determines the way in which we apply our ethics. In all instances, competing religious and secular values may force us to make decisions about our position on cultural issues. The price of religion can cause a moral dilemma that forces a personal choice of right and wrong.
Lastly, people use their culture to help decide what is right and what is wrong. People are big on social acceptance. No one likes to be left out of the loop. ?We say that we want a colorblind society, but we continue to count people by race or skin pigment.? (Pg. 345) This is quoted from ?What Really Ails America? by William J. Bennett. Although we want to be socially accepted we still have morals and assumptions imprinted in our brains. This is another personal dilemma that can cause a personal conflict between what is right and what is wrong. When your cultures moral values change, do yours? Many people change and bend their ideas of right and wrong to fit in with today?s culture. Political leader influences change in our culture on a daily basis. Depending on the party in office, our view of that party can lead us to debate what is right and wrong. For example, if we were a republican culture and a democrat was elected in to office, then we would be more likely to debate and argue with their views. The publics opinion can also have a say in what?s right and what?s wrong. ?Last year, Snoop Doggy Dogg, indited for murder, saw his album, ?Doggystyle,? which celebrates the use of marijuana and the degradation of women, debut at number one on the rap chart.? (Pg. 343) This quote proves how the public decides what is morally accepted and what is not. The moral values of the public can alter along with yours. This quite also shows how what America thinks is ok may not be ok in many personal views. Someone?s personal life style can effect the final decision of what is right and what is wrong. Many of today?s lifestyles are publicly accepted but in private homes, they are not. ??Cross dressing couple and prostitutes who love their jobs?? (pg. 343) In my parents household this would never be accepted but in my neighbors house it could be very acceptable.
In conclusion, the three main influences that deal with making the right and wrong choices are family, religion and culture. Our personal lessons that we have received from our parents helped put a solid base to our moral views. They taught us what they believed what was right and what was wrong. Our religious beliefs are also a big factor in our decision making process. These are usually personal conflicts of right and wrong but they will affect the outcome of a public issue. Culture is another way to help us base the rights and wrongs. Our personal lifestyle, our need for social acceptance, and our cultures moral values all help us decide. When you know what is truly important in your life, you can make decisions and choices carefully and responsibly.