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How does one lose their moral compass?

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posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 11:48 AM
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I came across a thread in another forum yesterday that rattled me, to say the least. Without getting into to many specifics, it involved the conduct of war, war atrocities and the deliberate use of deadly force against innocent civilians, mostly children.

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I like to think that mankind is inherently good. That we possess the ability to acknowledge the difference between what is morally, ethically right and what is wrong. Perhaps, I'm naive this respect.

That said, how is it that a person who considers himself, and is considered by others, a good person, can commit unspeakable atrocities under certain conditions, such as war?

Shouldn't there be an inner voice of reason that says, "The actions you are about to commence are wrong and morally reprehensible"? If so, how is it that one's conscience can be so easily overridden?

I guess I'm just trying to make some semblance of sense in an often mad world.




posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 11:53 AM
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How does one lose their moral compass? That is easy.

Most people sell it. Almost everyone has a price.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 11:56 AM
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Originally posted by Ambient Sound
How does one lose their moral compass? That is easy.

Most people sell it. Almost everyone has a price.



Simple and to the point


Selling it may not involve money either. Ideals, passions, emotions can all be manipulated by others to exact ends.

Some of the soilders at Abu Ghraib are at thier core good people, but placed in a scenario with pressure and manipulation committed atrocities. Its a sad but common theme historicaly.

Wiht that kind of pressure it takes someone of special charecter and strength of conviction to resist.


[edit on 6/18/08 by FredT]



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:06 PM
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reply to post by FredT
 


It's hard enough to understand how adults can commit atrocities against other adults. I just cannot comprehend how an adult can commit atrocities against unarmed children.

Even in the heat of battle, there should be some line that man not be willing to cross.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:27 PM
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They are trained to belittle people, think of it as a way to openly disreguard any action in life, and leave the rest to clean up the mess.
Nothing in this world is worth more then what is unsaid.



How many times must we inflict pain on others so we may learn what it does to ourselves?

How trained is the mind that doesn't know its feelings when they are being repressed?



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:30 PM
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reply to post by maria_stardust
 

The way you lose your moral compass is, you build a fire in your heart, and you want to keep that fire going, so you take everything else in the world, one at a time, as they come to hand, and you feed them into that fire, and they are burned up and destroyed, it's not that you particularly wanted to destroy them, but either way it matters much less than keeping that fire going.
It's like you say to yourself " No matter what, (fill-in-the-blank), is not going to happen" and you continue to make sure that (fill-in-the-blank) does not happen.
It's like that one point when you are first becoming a real drug addict, and you look over to your dope habit, and you choose to marry it, you say to it
" You know what, honey, I don't care what anybody says -What do they know - It's just you and me."

It can easily happen to strong passionate persons who are used to relying on themselves.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:32 PM
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I like the answer that some people sell it. I think that is very true.

For those who do not sell it, I think they give it away. Probably out of fear. We all have a moral compass, I think the majority of people think so little of themselves that they decide to listen to other people, and books, or some other form of authority rather than just trusting that small voice or feeling inside that is your own moral compass.

I dont think people lose it because they are bad, I think they lose it because they are afraid to stand up and do what they really feel is right. They doubt their own wisdom, and so they fall prey to the predators who capitalize on their self doubt to further their own agendas.

Just my two cents.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:35 PM
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Originally posted by maria_stardust
I like to think that mankind is inherently good. That we possess the ability to acknowledge the difference between what is morally, ethically right and what is wrong.


Me, too. OTOH, some people believe the opposite, that humans are basically evil/bad and need to be controlled by an outside force.

A problem with someone doing horrendous acts, we tend to think of such a person as a "monster", which, while psychologically there may be a very deranged person, is not always the case. There are studies which show that a very average person can be compelled to do "evil".


Originally posted by FredT
Ideals, passions, emotions can all be manipulated by others to exact ends.
[edit on 6/18/08 by FredT]


I like this statement. I am reminded of Germany under Hitler's rule. Also, Charles Manson's influence.

A couple ideas here. One, if people do not believe they have inherited (inherently) good, knowing they have a choice, then there is the temptation to become their own victim. "The devil made me do it!" "I was born evil and can't overcome it."

Two, fear. Fear causes individuals as well as nations to react in "evil" ways. Hitler was consumed with fear of a "race" dying out. Looking at "evil" in the world today one realizes how much evil is caused because humans are afraid. Nations start wars, because they fear losing resources or power. People start fights, because they are afraid, afraid of losing face, etc.

Sadly, many humans do not realize their true power and goodness, but, instead act fearfully, passing these fearful acts off as strength. Perhaps that is the cruelest joke/self deceit humans play on themselves.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:47 PM
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First you have to define "morality". Most people look to the historical novel, the bible, to determine morality. I lost my morality a long time ago, when I felt that living by the ten commandments was enough, everything else is subjective. I live life to it's fullest while abiding by the ten commandemnts, but that's all. I like pre marital sex (protected), and smoking, and drinking booze, while still abiding by the simple concepts of right and wrong.

As far as the morality of war, it has nothing to do with morals, it has everything to do with wrong and right. When you enter boot camp you are brainwashed from the get go. That is the exact time and place where you lose your concept of wrong and right.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:48 PM
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In the normal conditions most people are well aware of it...

Under extreme pressure (which is a greatest test for ones morality) lot of people are lost.

I have a first hand experience. Been in 2 wars and one of them was civil, 4 years as a soldier and one as POW. Been in military for 15 years.

I can take on this subject from the war perspective.

One of the most predominant reasons people loose the compass is loss of someone dear in their family or a friend. Seen it million times.

Sadly enough religion backed it up many times, you know, eye for the eye thing, but it usually does not end there...



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:59 PM
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Originally posted by maria_stardust
It's hard enough to understand how adults can commit atrocities against other adults. I just cannot comprehend how an adult can commit atrocities against unarmed children.

Even in the heat of battle, there should be some line that man not be willing to cross.


Yes, adults harming children. This is very bad. A taboo has been broken.

Re war and children. My father never got over the fact that in WW2 he had to kill young teenage German boys. He could only rationalize his pain by saying that when a gun is pointed at you, you have to defend your own Life.

Recently I became aware of a young Iraq veteran who everyday suffers a personal pain from having to kill an entire family in a raid on a house. This pain is passed along to his mother, as everyday she awakes never knowing if this is the day her son will commit suicide.

Killing other humans is not a natural thing to do for humans. Therefore, to become a soldier (or a gang member) means having to reorient one's thinking to perform an unnatural act. Reducing an enemy to something less than human, less than yourself at the least, makes this job easier. (Name calling of an enemy is common.) The job also becomes easier when one is directly attacked, as a form of self-defense. (Or when one is made to believe that the killing is for "self defense".)
But, killing a child during war goes to breaking a worse taboo, to do no harm to children.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 01:06 PM
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You stated that you "know" an Iraq veteran who "HAD" to kill an entire family. Did he explain why? This is what I was saying in my post. Once in the military you are brainwashed, and then you just "follow orders". The higher ups in the military are the ones who have long lost their ability to discern right from wrong and the grunts just follow orders. Sick and twisted!



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 01:06 PM
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many people can mentally picture a moral compass...
where the arrow points in a direction, a straight line to some horizon


there are others where a compass model is just not an adequate analogy,
instead they might something like this explaination;



if one were to use the example of a centering bubble
(like the leveling device on a transit level)
superimposed over a field of concentric rings
(like a archery target lying flat on the ground)

then you'ld have the idea of a moral centering guage that these other people can relate to.
the concentric rings would represent one's known & experienced limits,
but the boundary grows further out (from the core 'self') as more additions of rings are experienced as one stretches their life experience.



~~at some point a normal someone could cross that acceptable boundary,
while others, who were confused/confounded in the first place, were looked upon as sociopaths by the rest of the community, and never permitted freedom allowed by conformity.


a moral compass is an illusion



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 01:07 PM
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oops...

a twitchy trigger finger caused a dbl post

[edit on 18-6-2008 by St Udio]



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 01:14 PM
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It saddens me how humans have the ability to dehumanize others. I guess there's a delicate dance that takes place between the ego and the id. A balance that can be upset when our environment is disrupted by things such as war.

When all is said and done, there is always introspection. Not always an easy thing, but necessary, nonetheless.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 01:18 PM
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Watching television and movies. Hollywood is the moral sewer of the world. (One, no, I am not religious; two, I do not own a TV and haven't watched it for decades; and three, I stopped going to the movies in the 70s because of bad audience behavior, which is so bad now cinemas are losing business over it.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 01:25 PM
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I lost mine in a poker game with Hitler, Pol Pot, Ted Kaczynski, Satan, and Jim Jones.


Seriously, though, when faced with madness, I would expect that one would respond with madness. Look at the situations that cause people to go down that road. Many times they are faced with an environment in which sanity has completely vanished. Can anyone really blame them if they react to that with insanity?



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 01:42 PM
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Originally posted by PsychoHazard
Can anyone really blame them if they react to that with insanity?


I think the problem is not that others necessarily blame us when we lose our moral compass. Although that can be bad in and of itself. What I have noticed (and what seems to me to be the far greater pain) is that people who lose their moral compass often blame themselves. Sometimes for the rest of their lives.
(Such as was pointed out by the poster who mentioned veterans of wars who are haunted by their actions in that war)

Once you have lost your compass, (depending on your beliefs about judgment, and what you are as a soul/spiritual being, sin, etc.,) it seems to me that many people then spend the rest of their lives hiding from (or trying to) themselves. They may take anti-depressants, drink too much, do other drugs, become addicted to love and relationships, work too much, watch too much TV, commit suicide, act out violently towards others, etc.

It seems to me that the "Deal" or the contract we have in this life as moral and spiritual creatures is with our highest Self. (or God or the Universe or the Divine depending on your view or word choice) I think that is why it is so tragic to accept another persons opinion, or command over your own inner feeling about right or wrong. After the act is done, the choice made, the person whom you relied upon to give you guidance has gone on with their life but you are left alone with that feeling or voice.

You either then have to address it, and forgive yourself, or like many do, you have to run from yourself forever.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 02:10 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander



You either then have to address it, and forgive yourself, or like many do,
you have to run from yourself forever.


I must disagree that you have to either run or forgive yourself.
Both of those are kind of low.
You can live on as a ruined person, knowing that you will never really be happy again. This is much more sweet and truthful, and honoring of your previous life's intention. Every day's new regrets are the sincere flowers of remembrance that you lay on the grave of your heart.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 02:27 PM
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I believe the easiest way to lose your moral compass is to believe your own propaganda.

Being "right" or having a justification for atrocities takes it's toll not only on the victim (learning to hate) but the enforcer (conscience).

I do believe people or humanity for that fact are basically good. But we are a product of our enviroment. If you learn to hate you learn to justify...but i do believe in the end your conscience will get the best of you.

Religion (pick one) has created more strife and wars then about anyother justification IMHO.

Extrordinary circumstance (ie...mob rule..extreme duress) can make even the most moral person, act immoral. Fight or flight, wheather the situation warrants such an action, has also been the downfall of many a moral person. If you believe your life is in danger...you take an action...then find out that the situation didn't need such a response. Can you justify , in your own mind, that it was an accident...or does the guilt become so overwhelming that you do turn to self destructive habits. It this situation I don't believe that you have lost your moral compass....guilt alone is enough to know that you are still part of humanity.

Dehumanizing is the first step to justifying hate. Look at the WW2 posters depicting the Japaneese and the German's as blood thursty huns ready to overrun the US at any minute.

Just thinking out loud





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