if you are a person who has an uncommon feeling for the weak, the strays and the downtrodden and feel quite alone in your point of view, this piece of research might help shed some light on why when it seems so obvious that saving a life, ending suffering should be in the highest priority, others can look away citing what seems like watered down reasons for public good.
in a less elegant and scientific way, i, in my feline wisdom, have come up with my own observation about the different social attitudes that exist in Singapore. Jonathan Haidt made a very successful career studying the same phenomenon.
his Moral Foundations Theory looks at the way morality varies between cultures and identifies five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals. these are
1. care for others, protecting them from harm
2. fairness, justice, treating others equally.
3. loyalty to your group, family, nation
4. respect for tradition and legitimate authority.
5. purity, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions.
before you read on, rank these five moral values for yourself.
as the blogger and champion for this family who takes my cue mainly from the man and woman of this animal house, here’s how I rank
1. loyalty to your group, family, nation – this family is everything to me
2. respect for tradition and legitimate authority – man and woman, your wishes are my command, most of the time…
3. fairness, Justice, treating others equally – felines like fairness, no favouritisms please.
4. care for others, protecting them from harm – i do care but cats like our privacy and I am just respecting everyone else’s, yeah?
5. purity, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions - I am pretty disgusting in my habits and lovin’ it.
this is how the woman ranks
1. care for others, protecting them from harm – non-negotiable
2. loyalty to your group, family, nation
3. fairness, Justice, treating others equally.
4. purity, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions.
5. respect for tradition and legitimate authority.
by american definitions, that makes me a down turf conservative and the woman a flaming left-wing liberal. why I think Sarah Palin is a hot folksy harmless hockey mom and the woman thinks McCain is on drugs to put her so close to the steps of the white house.
interestingly, my ranking mirrors the man’s.
he will lay down everything for the welfare of the family while the woman will be out throwing herself at the world in hopes of saving it. there is no right and wrong, of course. conservative thinkers preserve much needed structure and order to society: state, family, traditions, institutions. liberal thinkers buck it when they see the wreckage trailing behind these big shiny buses.
in all fairness, you need the both for society to progress spiritually and intellectually yet still in keeping to a pace that remains hospitable and tidy to most. in Singapore, my conversative voice certainly rings much louder in the hawker centres, in shenton way and in parliament. but if we are to become the vibrant city that we keep hearing about, it bodes well that while we retain the societal structures that serve us well in keeping us safe, organised and sparkling, we give room to these eccentric liberals who would not let go of a life, be it an old cranky old woman, a stray mangy cat or a tired misused elephant, room to do what no one else will, which is to plug the gaps left gaping open by the sharp unseeing corners of societal building blocks.
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