ETHICS-Questions-Peter Singer-February 26, 2016

Question-When we want to help someone, do we really want to help or are there other motives?

There certainly can be other motives, but if those motives are not in your conscious mind, then you actually want to help them. As we evolve spiritually, we think more and more about helping our fellow man. It starts by helping our family and friends but evolves into wanting and needing to help strangers as well. We are here to learn that life is not just about accumulating material possessions and fending for ourselves.

Question: When we give to charity does it really help?

In some cases it helps a lot but in some cases it doesn’t, depending on the organization. There are organizations that measure the effectiveness of individual charities (you can find them out online) and it is worthwhile checking them out before donating. If the charity pays their executives excessively, does not show where the money goes in detail, and does not measure their own effectiveness, then I would pick another one. In general, if the charity’s money goes through some foreign government’s hands, it’s effectiveness should be suspect.

Question: What if you don’t really have faith?

Think how you feel about helping others in distress. Not wanting others to feel pain and live in misery comes from within. This feeling alone should help you realize that there is a strong bond between people and even animals that goes beyond our physical form. We are not just lumps of material, we are living things with a spirit that is connected to everything and everyone. Not having faith in religion is fine because most religions stress their exoteric philosophy, which makes little sense to most of us. However, faith in the fact that we are an eternal being having a life experience for some greater purpose is something one can only get over time and with considerable effort. You might want to use the feeling inside you that wants to help others as a foundation on which to slowly build your belief system. It will come in time. No one is ever left behind.

Question: Can we really make a difference?

We certainly can make a difference in people’s lives and humanities condition. Even helping a single person is important because that person is capable of making a difference and in time it snowballs. You don’t need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulder, just help someone when you can. Maybe even more important is to not cause others to have pain and suffering.

Question: Does living morally matter?

Yes, living morally matters. We are on this planet to learn that material possessions are of no real lasting value. Learning how to treat others is the real essence of life. Living a virtuous life is the goal. At mankind kind’s present stage of development, living a completely virtuous life is beyond most of us, but that is ok. Our immediate goal should be to do a little better today than we did yesterday and in time we will achieve our long term goal of selfless service to others.

Question: So does morality boil down to a matter of convenience?

Not really. What we give to others in the way of our time and money needs to fall within our capability. The more we think about others and how we can help them, the more we will find that we can make our sacrifices convenient and fit within our busy daily lives. We don’t have to refocus our entire life on trying to live totally morally. We just need to think a little harder about the consequences of our actions and do a little better each day.

Question: How can anyone really decide what is the best way for others to live?

They cannot and there is no need to decide how others should live. But when we see people living in misery, with nothing to eat and plagued with disease, it is pretty obvious they do not prefer to live that way. Our job is not to judge them or even question why they are in those circumstances. The best we can do is to offer them options and help them change their lives, should they so choose.

Question: What makes society the official ruling of what is right?

If society is defined as any small group of people, then they cannot really be the ultimate judge of right and wrong. Virtue is a very complicated subject because it encompasses all aspects of how we treat each other. Each circumstance is different. As such, it can only be through contemplating and talking through these situations that we can really determine what is the ‘right’ action for us. Some societies, say a terrorist group, clearly are not capable of determining morality for themselves let alone others. In this case, I believe they have a false idea of what God expects of them and so they make poor decisions. It is only through the efforts of a much larger section of mankind that true virtuous actions can be determined. Leaving those decisions to individuals and small isolated groups often does not work well. That said, in the end we each need to choose a moral code for ourselves, as we have free will and are ultimately responsible for our actions. However, choosing our own code, without considering the ideas of others, is risky.

Question: Why should we self serve others?

If everyone treated us like they would have us treat them, then we wouldn’t have to worry about ourselves. Then everyone else would take care of our needs and we would take care of their needs. This is an extremely high standard to live by and mankind is not ready to do that yet. However, thinking only about ourselves is clearly not the right answer either. Who likes to be around people who only talk and think about themselves? If we just try to think of others a little more and our own personal needs a little less, then we will be fine and evolving spiritually upward.

Question: If we always do for others and don’t take care of ourselves, then we end up on the bottom of everything.

Because the people of the world are not specifically looking after your well being at this stage of human development, you do need to take care of yourself and your loved ones as well as strangers. Mankind is still learning how to treat each other and this concept will take time to become universal.

What we find is that when we help others and act altruistically, positive things come back to us in spades. Like attracts like. Negative actions attract bad things and positive actions positive things. That isn’t to say we should do good things just so we can gain from it. It is just how life works. In time, we will learn to do good things for others for its own sake.

Our Eternal Existence
Table of Contents

Section 1: The Unseen Universe
Chapter 1: Aspects of Metaphysics
Chapter 2: The Structure of the Universe
Chapter 3: Consciousness

Section 2: The Human Condition
Chapter 4: Essence, Soul and Personality
Chapter 5: The Human Psyche
Chapter 6: The ‘Death’ Experience

Section 3: Evolution
Chapter 7: Reincarnation
Chapter 8: Evolution of Consciousness
Chapter 9: Creating a Life

Section 4: The Power Of Thought
Chapter 10: Our Unique Reality
Chapter 11: Dreams
Chapter 12: Expectations