Friday, August 17, 2007

why it matters

i am angry.

i heard that a student from a top school forged an MC using his old one. even when the truth became evident, he tried his best to deny it. he displayed no signs of repentance eventually, only regret that he had been caught. he should have been more careful about using the right kind of ink. more disturbingly, this isn't an isolated incident. neither do his friends condemn an act like that. to these students, there is nothing wrong about forgery. after all, this act hurts no one in particular. why does the teacher have to spoil the party and discover the truth? what does it matter?

i feel so tired. how do you guide children who question even the fundamentals of basic morality? what have these students ever experienced in life to justify such cynicism and amorality? nothing. but life is very strange. those who have a lot, think they deserve more, and they don't see why they should allow inconvenient moral rules to get in the way of what they want to do.

first let me address the idea that the act was acceptable because it hurts no one. not every act should be measured by utilitarian principles. sometimes, things are simply right or wrong. beyond the pragmatic effects, is nothing else worth believing in? this deception is ultimately a deed done in darkness and secrecy, the perpetrator lives in fear that he would be discovered. there is something in his life that has to be hidden. tell me that this isn't guilt that comes from doing something wrong.

i always think that there is a very effective litmus test for whether an act is moral or not. we can just ask ourselves, is this something we would want our own children to do one day, on the basis that what you don't know can't hurt you?

besides, there are after all some social rules that everyone follows, to protect the order and mutual trust in society. these rules might bring about some immediate inconvenience, but no one sane wants to live in a world without them. we respect official documents, like MCs, because we trust that they come from a reliable source. but this is a situation that requires everyone to cooperate. our collective stability is safeguarded, and this too protects the individual. frankly, the very students who argue that a little deception is acceptable, would definitely not think the same way if the tables were turned on them, and they are the ones deceived. doesn't this betray some double-minded hypocrisy and selfishness?

it is naive to think that this deception hurts no one. it hurts his parents and those who care for him, but most importantly, it hurts his conscience and how he sees himself.

anyway, ultimately, i really don't think that people get away with doing what is wrong, even if they persuade themselves that they haven't done anything wrong using twisted logic. as the psalmist says to God,

'If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. '(Psalms 139)

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