What is morality, she asked.
“Judgement to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, and courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price. But where does one find it?”
The young boy made a sound that was half-chuckled, half-sneer:
“Who is John Galt?”
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
Recently I have ventured into a bit more philosophical reading with “Justice: What is the right thing to do” by Michael Sandel. In that book, he discussed at length about the development of philosophical discussion regarding what constituted justice aka what was the right thing to do, from the simple idea that whatever made the most people happy to the intertwine between religion, social custom and human liberty. If you have not read about him, I do recommend his lecture series on Youtube.
After I have finished his book, since I have a lot of free time, I start on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Whilst I do agree that the book portrayed an extreme view on the government oppression and special interest group on the market, up to the point of limit technological advance for the sake of “social equality”, I realize that the book does contain deep philosophical discussion on morality, human liberty.
To be honest, such discussion regarding human liberty is fascinating for me. From an Asian perspective, there is extensive rulebooks, social norms on what constitutes a good behavior that each of us (the citizen, son, father, etc.) is expected to conform. Therefore, such book opens a whole new discussion point for me. I remember whenever I challenge my family decision, they leverage on the main thesis that this is a norm, a custom, and culture of the society and I should not deviate or else the family and I will be condemned by others. Sometimes, I do wonder who are those “others”, so omnipotent that able to judge us “impartially”. I argue that whatever custom, the social norm is not always what guides us, individually into a good life and worse, might not be right to do. Nevertheless, after multiple heated exchanges, I have decided to give up. Despite my defeat, I maintain my points that I have my own liberty to pursue whatever is right for me or makes me feel happy as long as I do not do anything wrong or violate other people rights. Social norm and customs present for people to observe and interpret. They are not fixed and constantly change to reflect the current trend. Therefore, applying social norm blindly into one’s decision will sometimes be counterproductive and worse might not be the right thing to perform.
Anyway, as I am leaving Asia to North America, I am getting straight into the multiverse of opinion, perspectives, religion. As such, I am ready to embrace them 🙂