Let’s start this month off by blaming my childhood education. Why? Because while I may be TOTALLY responsible for myself as an adult (except for when I’m not) I had no idea, not one single conscious clue, as a kid.
Back then, the good Sisters of Mercy were forever warning me of the dangers of the world. I was subjected to a great number of “don’t”s and I was expected to adhere to them. I’m sure there were a great many “do”s too but they weren’t half as much fun. And, frankly, I didn’t know differently.
So, back to those “don’t”s. They included: don’t look for loopholes (ahem, lawyers and accountants), don’t turn a blind eye (ahem careers, educators and therapists), and, my personal favourite, don’t trade away my core moral values on drinking, carousing, smoking and gambling.
Firstly, I grew up in the 60s in rural Queensland, Australia. There was a half decade of drought. NO ONE had money to fritter away on anything other than bare essentials. When the rains finally came, life was good again. Circle of life. But what of those core moral values?
EVERYBODY, including the man on the Clapham omnibus, (be patient, we’ll get to him in due course) knows that Aussies love to gamble. We do? Ok then. But, Sister! Isn’t believing something without checking the facts considered turning a blind eye? Whack!! That’ll be 3 Hail Mary’s and a fast trip to Fr McMahon for confession. Note here, I did not even question the fact that I was not to question, in fact, I was punished. Oh well, at least I had something juicy to tell Father for a change. “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It hasn’t even been a whole day and I’ve strayed from my core moral values into moral bankruptcy”.
How that man kept a straight face is beyond me.
I had to explain myself to the good Father. He carefully told me that giving cheek to Sister, although a valid question in the right arena, was not moral bankruptcy but rather insubordination. Oh…My…God… a whole new category of sins!! SO much better to not question a nun than to figure out where my moral compass needed to be set. And it sounded so much better than to confess that I had stolen, yet again, my Dad’s lollies that were supposedly hidden behind the bread and butter plates in the kitchen. Lollies that were his replacement addiction after quitting smoking.
It got me thinking, just as addictions can be replaced, do I have replacement core moral values? I know what I believed to be true when I was a kid. I know what was expected of me. Seriously, the guidelines were VERY clear. Which brings me nicely to that man on the Clapham omnibus. These days, he/she/they on that public transport vehicle in Lambert, South London, has a much broader base of choices when it comes to values. With improved medical treatments, better mental health options, regulated workplaces, broader educational opportunities, improved availability of food, clean water (mostly), better housing and so on, the idea of quality has overridden quantity. There are no wooly mammoths or sabre toothed tigers to dodge to make it to old age in peace. I could have included plagues, but, hey, 2020! But we do have technology that is radically changing the way we live. Addiction has a whole new face with social media. We’re looking at an evolving workforce with jobs that have yet to be created. Soon the man on the Clapham bus will cease to be a yardstick of a reasonable and ordinary person. He’ll probably be a designer sending his work from his home via the web to a 3D printer on the other side of the world.
Visit with me again next month when I roll up my sleeves to cast an eye over realising that I have finally relaxed into who I am but am constantly reviewing what that means.