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How does one lose their moral compass?

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posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 02:48 PM
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I don't think it's so much that humanity is evil or good inherently. I think on a case by case basis some people are just inherently nicer than others. I do think that atrocities in war are due to a host of factors. Training is an important factor. If an individual is not trained, for example, to react quickly in life or death/stressful situations, they may fall back on instinct. Instinct being self-preservation above the "feelings" or "worth" of other individuals. In a wartime situation, the other individuals may not be seen as humans, but merely whatever they represent, i.e. the enemy or ally. If people of any occupation receive inferior training, they will fail.

I believe another factor is the power relations amongst the individuals. As in the military, if you're not an officer, you must take orders. The hierarchy creates a chain by in if you deny an action, there will be repurcussions. Thus, if you have an inadequate officer, they will not only corrupt their tier but the tiers below, causing a trickle down effect of inappropriate/immoral behavior. Creating a power structure based on nothing but arbitrary characteristices, i.e. ranks, as opposed to moral fiber, intelligence, and leadership traits. For example, not every graduate of Annapolis is a "good" leader. They may have the training, but lack the personality to implement effectively.

Another factor is the socialization of the individual. For example, we are being inundated with so much anit-middle east propoganda, that inviduals see middle eastern culture as negative. Just as Nazis are seen as an evil presence, as opposed to individuals who happened to live under a specific government at a specific time. If one was born in Iraq right now, for example, one would be inundated with anti-American propoganda, thus creating a generation that hates another group for an artifical reason. This dehumanizes the "enemy", allowing the individual to rationalize despicable behavior. We see the "other" as a part of a contrary belief system, as opposed to a human being.

Accountability is another factor. Most people do despicable things, because they know they will get away with it. War creates a situation where normal rules of interaction are thrown out the _ If individuals are told that they won't get in trouble, and that they're just "doing their job", they will justify the action, as the "decision" was out of their hands.

Some studies that I've found interesting about human behavior are the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram's Obedience Experiment.

www.prisonexp.org...

www.age-of-the-sage.org...




posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 02:50 PM
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How does one lose their moral compass?

Ask my ex wife!



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 03:04 PM
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Some may sell their moral compass, and I can't speak for other countries,
but In the USofA the moral compass of many has been stolen or broken.

Look at our hero's; not many moral folks there.
Look at our sports, video games and other pastimes Mostly violent for mass consumption and desensitization of people that play them.
Our moral codes and philosophies stress "winning" at all costs.
Losers are weak and to be scorned. Intellectual pursuits are "sissy"
Macho is to be respected, and sexual stereotypes abound.
And what fine upstanding Men our political leaders are.

www.salem-news.com...


Perhaps our moral compass isn't broken beyond repair but it needs to be taken into the shop, given a thorough diagnostic evaluation and maybe a complete overhaul.

I lost my moral compass at one time, thanks to drugs, alcohol and fast living but in the grand scheme of things, the person I hurt more than anyone was myself. And I want to thank my Higher Power for opening my eyes. "I once was blind, but now I see" Amazing Grace!!!



[edit on 18-6-2008 by whaaa]



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 04:57 PM
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By observation of the people I've known throughout my life; I believe the normally accepted theory that morals are instilled by upbringing is INCORRECT.

So before we can answer how one loses their moral compass, we need to know how one gains the moral compass.

I don't see any compass set to "pure good" or "pure evil", most are shades of grey that tend to lean this way or that way.

Without knowing the answer to my question above (as my own experience contradicts the theory) my only guess to answer your question would be:

Compasses are lost when one's needs exceed their ability to cope, solve or satiate those needs in a normally acceptable way.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 10:51 PM
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reply to post by Cowgirlstraitup7
 


Cowgirl, this particular soldier's story was related to me by a friend of the mother. She said that he talks about having to break down doors, entering houses, and in one house a family ended up being killed.

Yes, boot camp is meant to break down an individual, in order to be reborn as a soldier, who must take orders and work as part of a larger unit/team. There is nothing wrong with being a soldier per say. But I think what is wrong is to entice young people, who are still in the process of setting their moral compass, with money and promises of paying for education, or promises along the lines of a self-help program to instill in them what they are looking for. This can just turn into a bait-and-switch tactic, causing disillusionment and anger.

Granted, many recruits will never see combat, never have to actually kill, but still many will be exposed to the horrors, the atrocities of war. War is horror, is atrocity.

Humans will take a great leap forward when they do away with war. But to do this, they must overcome fear.



posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 11:29 PM
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reply to post by dragonfire2159
 


I like what you had to say. Training, leadership, accountability. Break downs in these lead to failure, for individuals as well as military as well as nations.
We seem to be witnessing a great conjunction of military (ex. Abu Ghraib) and civilian (ex. contractor corruption) break down/loss of moral compass.

Leadership plays a great role in helping set a moral compass. That old saying...a fish rots from the head down.

I met German and Japanese former soldiers who held no animosity for the US once war ended. As long as we will be in a state of perpetual War on Terror, we will be creating enemies. And we will be creating them worldwide. Maybe this is good business for the military industrial complex, but it is bad business for us.



posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 12:52 AM
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The vast majority of people think that they are inherently good people. I would venture that very few people alive believe that they are truly bad. The worst among us are always the ones who believe they are doing the right thing. So it's not hard to understand why anyone who believes they are a good person does bad things: clearly, they believe that they are doing the right thing either for its own sake or to achieve and end.

Obviously people who know they are bad people don't operate with a moral compass to begin with, so they are irrelevant to this question.

I think the important thing to ask is why people who do have a moral compass allow it to be overridden. I liked what desert said about his dad in WWII. If a person didn't dehumanize an enemy he had to kill, or do something to ease the pain of having to do it, I think he would know he was a bad person.

In short, why do people lose their moral compass? I think it's because they stop believing what they are doing is wrong.



posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 01:02 AM
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Incrementally, that's how.

What one generation tolerates, the next will accept as the norm.
Plus, once you start rejecting God, all else goes out the _



posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 01:13 AM
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It changes from person to person.

What works on one person though, will generally work on most people.

Like others have said, there are those out there who are strong in their personal faith.

It's kinda like being proud of yourself, but instead being proud of what you fight for.

As such, an inexperienced person is more likely to lose his moral compass than a person who had already experienced a test of morality and come out with his faith burning hot.

There is a word for an inexperienced person who loses his moral compass when faced with something which causes him to question his innermost beliefs;

Naive.



posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 01:14 AM
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There is also a saying, "Everyone has their price".

It's true, although for some people they pay that price with their lives.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 04:47 PM
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I agree that the first question to be considered is, how does one acquire a moral compass? Where does it come from? Someone said they don't believe it comes from upbringing, but where else can it come from? Based on my own personal observations of infants and toddlers, I don't think we are born with one. Toddlers will do all sorts of 'atrocious' things to animals and people if left to their own devices.

How do we learn what's 'right' and 'wrong' if not by watching the behavior of those around us and the reactions to it, and by assessing the reactions of our family and friends to the things that we do and say? Certainly the 'compass' can be adjusted by what we read and learn in school and from TV, movies, etc., but that comes later. Our concepts of right and wrong begin much earlier than that, in my opinion.

As far as war atrocities are concerned, I don't necessarily believe that some people who commit what appear to be atrocities have lost their moral compass. Allow me to provide an example:

My Dad, who was in the Vietnam war, has told me that the enemy sometimes sent children, even very young children, towards a group of enemy soldiers carrying a live grenade. They speculated that the children might have been told something like "take this to the Americans and they'll give you candy," but who knows. That's only speculation. All they knew for sure was that, if they didn't shoot the child it would die anyway when the grenade went off and take the American soldiers with it, and taking the risk that the child would reach them in time for them to grab the grenade and throw it away before it went off didn't seem to be good odds. Even worse than that, in my opinion, once the pattern was established and the enemy knew that the American soldiers would shoot a child walking towards them for no apparent reason (especially if it were carrying something), they began to send innocent, unarmed children carrying nothing harmful towards groups of American soldiers for the express purpose of getting said Americans to shoot the child so they could publicize the act. Where the people who used children in this manner lost THEIR moral compass is something I can't speculate on, but the Americans who were forced to shoot the children in order to, as best they knew, defend their own lives, hadn't lost anything except their innocence.

I'm not saying that all wartime 'atrocities' are of the type described above, but some are. And for the rest, I think that in many cases war is an excuse for people to do things they would like to do anyway but can't because they're afraid of the consequences. In that sense, many of those people lost their moral compass - or never had one? - long before the war started, and the war itself had little to do with it other than providing a consequence-free venue for people to act on their desires.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 10:21 AM
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Originally posted by Heike
How do we learn what's 'right' and 'wrong' if not by watching the behavior of those around us and the reactions to it, and by assessing the reactions of our family and friends to the things that we do and say?


I believe that our morals are obtained through external influences, such as experience and observation. A person's upbringing certainly plays a crucial role in setting the original foundation, in this respect. However, as we mature we fine tune and make adjustments to what eventually becomes our core principles.


Originally posted by Heike
Where the people who used children in this manner lost THEIR moral compass is something I can't speculate on, but the Americans who were forced to shoot the children in order to, as best they knew, defend their own lives, hadn't lost anything except their innocence.


The atrocities you cited has left me with mixed emotions. I do agree that people who use others, especially children, as human shields and bait are morally bankrupt. How a person can treat a child as refuse to be discarded as collateral damage is beyond my comprehension. The victims in the case are two-fold: the children who became live targets and the soldiers forced to shoot them in self-preservation.

I would say that the soldiers who felt the need to shoot these children out of necessity have not lost their moral compass, as much as irreparably damaged it. Such tragedies are not easily overcome, and scar for life. In the end it is innocence lost on both counts.


Originally posted by Heike
...I think that in many cases war is an excuse for people to do things they would like to do anyway but can't because they're afraid of the consequences. In that sense, many of those people lost their moral compass - or never had one? - long before the war started, and the war itself had little to do with it other than providing a consequence-free venue for people to act on their desires.


Now we are beginning to head into the shady arena of immoral vs. amoral. An immoral person is consciencely aware of the difference between right and wrong, and willfully makes detestable decisions. An amoral person, on the other hand, completely lacks a conscience and makes decisions within a vacuum without guilt or remorse.

That said, it can be easily argued that both immoral and amoral individuals have completely lost their moral compass. For these kinds of people, war can become a despicable playground.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 11:36 AM
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It used to be a real big problem getting people to kill each other in wars. It really wasn't until after war world 2 that we developed the psychological technologies needed to be able to train people to shoot and kill other people.

This is why we dominate on the battlefield, it really isn't that much about superior guns or such, but that we understand how to get people to shoot and kill other people. And where as they only have perhaps 25% of their army willing to shoot at the enemy we have around 95% of our army willing to Kill them without a thought.

Here is a good article on the subject:

www.military-sf.com...



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 11:54 AM
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Originally posted by maria_stardust
I like to think that mankind is inherently good.




What on earth gave you that idea?

In reality, are we not the opposite?

All depends on your points of view.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 11:59 AM
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Originally posted by FredT


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



[edit on 6/18/08 by FredT]


right. often time we let the bonds we feel w/ someone override what we know deep down in our hearts to be right.

for instance, patriotism.

an example i guess would be the bond a parent feels for a child. they forget that child is valuable as a human being and that should be the #1 thing we show to them. you know, make them ready to go out into society as a responsible, compasionate, fair adult.

instead, a lot of parents let the "bond" they feel to them override the value of their life as a human being. they end up giving into the child, spoiling them, taking their side in conflicts w/ other ppl (in an unfair, baised way), blah blah.

cut they tie that binds and a bigger picture starts to develop. the moral compass i suppose.



posted on Jul, 15 2008 @ 12:00 PM
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People have been killing people back as far as recorded history. We just have quicker more effective ways to do it now.
I think when someone feels they have a job to do that is totally against any sense of feeling for others at all, they put up a barrier to their feelings so that they don't lose their minds and when they do this-put up a barrier-it is there for everyone no matter what and so they certainly seem heartless.
It's a means of survival.
Some of the kindest people around work in hospitals, and sometimes they have to get a little hard shelled to be able to deal with all the pain they see.



posted on Jul, 16 2008 @ 06:48 PM
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One's moral compass becomes lost when one imposes his will on another, thus assuming a false sense of superiority.





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