I like thinking about the “big questions”, things like “does big-G-God-or-little-g-god exist” or “why do so many people accept that Naruto is a ninja when hiding is difficult in his orange MC Hammer pants” and the rest of what plagues the mental capacities of humankind. And one topic that consistently arises in a “big questions” discussion (which is does often enough in both faithful and secular circles, even more so when those two circles go all Venn Diagram on each other) is that of morality.
There’s a big misconception about morality and atheism/non-believers, and I think I’ve found a possible way of explaining my particular stance. That being, the discussion of my wife’s ass.
Now, I should probably explain here that I’m not married, and that “my wife’s ass” is more metaphorical than literal. Still, it’s relevant to the conversation at hand. But what do I mean by talking about my metaphorical wife’s ass? I mean the legendary (read: stereotypical) question that scares the breath out of every married man getting ready for a nice evening out:
“Honey, does my ass look fat in this dress?”
Ah, we have a great subject for our morality play now. A great many people could say they know how to “properly” answer this question, but let’s try digging deeper (phrasing?) to see what the truly “moral” answer is.
The first thing we need to figure out is, does her ass actually appear “fat” in whatever it is she’s wearing? If she’s asking, there’s the chance that this is a possibility, so we need to look and asses (*snicker*) the situation. (Even if this is only for the viewer’s own benefit. You did commit to this person, after all.) There is a moral element to a question like this, and multiple things that should go into its rationale; the first being, “it’s OK for me to lie if it DOES look fat?” There are people who will stick steadfast to the thought that lying is never the best policy, so if the bum is big or small, it would be moral to simply give a “yes” or “no” answer accordingly. But even if that’s the “easy” answer to the morality question – “it is never OK to knowingly tell a false statement” – we may need to ponder the question, “is it EVER alright to knowingly tell a false statement?”
But that’s only the beginning, and the more basic version of this circumstance. If there’s ever IS a justified time to not tell the truth, then would that be this time? Is my wife’s concern over her rump justify me to calming her fears that it’s too large? If there’s a time to lie, surely there must be a time and place for that, so this might be it. If I know, for example, that my wife does not want to give the appearance of having a fat ass, then I can assume that this lie may be justified in order to calm her down, play down any fear of knocking lamps off of tables or scaring our future dinner guests. Surely then, the answer to give is to tell her that no it does NOT look fat, right?
What if she WANTS to have a fat ass, but instead of “FAT” she’s looking for “PHAT”, which is phonetically the same but entirely different in execution? Should I, then, tell her to be proud of that booty? Should I inform her subtly that, indeed, that booty be phat? What’s the best way to emphasize the positive of her emphatic behind, and therefore boost her confidence and calm as we head out to dinner? And if it does NOT look “phat”, should I tell her it is anyway so she’s given the same effect?
Maybe, to HER, having a large bum is a bad thing, but I appreciate the circular view. Should I, in that case, attempt to console her and tell her I find her beautiful, even if she disagrees with my appreciation? Would that be moral, would that be good? Should I straighten my tie and explain that I like the meat on her pelvis, or should I hug her from behind like that sitcom dad does when they reflect on Little Johnny’s recent home runs and/or breaking of a neighbor’s window with the baseball?
There are other explanations, as well as other context that can be added to each concept and broken down further, though I think that’s enough to consider here without overstaying my welcome. But there’s one common thread of logic going through each of those scenarios, and that is the idea to try and emphasize the positive outcomes while reducing the negative ones. If I value my wife’s self-esteem, then I should take the initiative in bolstering it. If I lie to her she may feel betrayed, which would cause negative effects, possibly by disappointing her with the notion I would be either brutally honest to the point of denigration or that she may not reward me with kisses when we got back from dinner. It might be best for me to answer a certain way, or it may be best for her, or it may be best for everyone involved. If I do what I can to minimize the negative effects, and increase or bring forward the positive effects which help everyone in some way, would that be an example of morality?
There are probably multiple people reading this with their own reasoning and conclusions to draw from this hypothetical (and possibly a few people either annoyed or even offended at how much I was talking about my hypothetical companion’s posterior). For me personally, all of those considerations combined fall into my concept of morality: actively trying to emphasize the positive effects while minimizing the negatives. It’s best for me to help my partner feel good about her jiggly cheeks, which may in turn be best for me in the short, medium, or long run. Showing that I care about her well-being enough to either tell her the truth OR lie about her butt both have logical lines of thought if taken seriously.
It’s a minor example, not one with any life-threatening… HOPEFULLY this wouldn’t be life-threatening for anyone… consequences. But it is a moral conundrum that I would need to work out logically based on all those factors. If I take the simple line that “good” is emphasis of the positive and “bad” is emphasis on the negative, then most things will have an element of each, then morality as a concept is difficult and specific to me and my experience. This only reinforces in my mind the idea that morality is subjective, and by being subjective it’s independent of the supernatural in all forms. Following another example may or may not be negative, but following simply because someone else SAYS it’s the moral example without consideration for the factors or people involved may go against what I defined above as “moral”.
But one thing I think most people can agree on: if somebody ELSE says the wife’s bum is no good, they deserve a punch in the shnoz. Moral or not, that’s just rude, yo.
Do you think I’m wrong, and have an explanation with reasons to back up why? Please let me know in comments and we can hopefully have a moral, reasonable, reason-filled discussion about it. I look forward to it.
Stand tall, my friends. And… Becky! BECKY! Look at her butt! Baby’s got back!