What would you say to someone who examines the checkout line at a busy department store, not to decide which line will be quickest, but to see which cashier matches their race and ethnicity?
I was with someone who did this. I encouraged her to join me at the shortest line. She did so begrudgingly, then left our line to checkout with the only Caucasian cashier (whose line was double the length of the one we stood in). Her action was premeditated, obvious.
I did not call her out on her action. It was one of many assaults on my moral principles and I knew that her response would be instinctual denial. She has denied these judgments before. Yet, whenever I’m in her presence, her actions illustrate her belief that the pigment of someone’s skin is a worthy tool for judging character.
This person is surrounded by like-minded individuals who act as a bubble to protect her immoral inclinations. They display the same biases. They speak poorly of African Americans and Hispanics, accusing entire ethnic groups of leeching from the medical system, and stealing America’s resources.
Does my poor judgment of their morality make them universally toxic people? I think it should. But, as I’ve discovered in the Moralities of Everyday Life (Yale) course that I just started taking, one person’s soul-sucker is someone else’s chum.
A lack of shared moral views is one barometer we use to define toxic behavior. As I begin to cut cords with those who cause me moral anguish, I don’t want to fall into the age-old trap of name-calling (a specific R word comes to mind). Labeling them would be the same as them labeling others. I choose instead to ponder what has been discussed for centuries- the source of a person’s moral compass.
Does our religion determine what we think is moral? I believe in a God of equality. I believe we are all made in God’s image. However, some Christians have no problem judging humans based on color, race, or sexual preference. Take, for instance, the bakery owners who decided they could not bake a cake for a homosexual couple’s wedding. Are gay people toxic to the bakery owners? How did they arrive on that moral plane? If we are members of the same Christian religion, why don’t we share a common understanding that the love of God is inclusive?
Morality for me is defined by instinct. It is right and wrong. I believe that moral behavior can only be labeled as ‘moral’ if it does not harm other humans. Morals may be partially learned, but I suspect we are also born with innate moral inclinations. Take empathy for example. Some children exhibit none, while others are innately compassionate. I believe empathy is essential to morality.
As I continue the journey to heal my physical (chronic idiopathic urticaria) and spiritual health, I seek to learn as much as I can about the things and people who cause me soul-level anxiety. I hope you will help me along the way by sharing what you have learned.
- How do you define toxic behavior?
- Have you cut cords to define a more peaceful existence?
- Is your morality innate or learned?
- What defines moral behavior for you?
Lots to think about. I have so much to learn.
Blessings to ponder what makes us moral,