MORALITY is a subject that deals with the idea of understanding what is right and wrong action. The act was solely the basis of judgment whether a person commits a good or erroneous action before but with the enhancement of understanding the different aspects of a human being, morality includes thoughts and words now. If we have to give thanks to a group of people for the source of morality today, we have to give it to the Jews.
Long before the western countries developed their own system of morality, the Israelites had already established norms of good and bad behaviors. Judaism, their religion, which is the oldest religion in the world helped them set to institute the principles of morality. Their Torah, (Christians call it the Pentateuch which literally means five) the first five books in the bible contains all the laws that Jews should abide to. Starting at a young age, every Jew is educated with the Torah. This is essential for them since it serves as their guide in dealing with all aspects of the Jews’ everyday life. Part of the Torah is the famous Ten Commandments received by Moses from God which serves as the foundation of the Israelites morality.
Civilization took a dark course because of the warring state of nations in the old. The principle was survival of the fittest. Powerful countries invade weaker ones. Pharaohs and kings expand their territories through brutal force. Morality was centered on gaining one’s stature and honor. There was no recognition of the sanctity of life. Even the nature of killing was barbaric. These practices were not in harmony with the teachings of the Jews. The Ten Commandments, for instance, provided the responsibility of all sons and daughters to honor their parents, to avoid killing a life, and to respect the properties of others. Sexuality is also explained by enjoining the Jews not to covet their neighbors’ wives. Through these laws, human rights were born.
These laws in the perspective of Christians were perfected through Christ though this claim does not sit well with the Israelites. Jesus was a Jew and it was because of His contradiction to some teachings of the Torah led to the birth of Christianity. Yet many of His teachings were oriented in the Jewish traditions.
Jesus asked us to love God and neighbor as we love ourselves. He commanded us that when someone slapped us on the left cheek, offer him/her our right cheek. This negates the practice of vengeance as a form of perfect justice. He dared those who were about to kill a prostitute to throw the first stone if they have not sinned. No one dared. He was persecuted for trying to institute this other face of morality.
Morality is considered a paramount subject because moralists correlate this subject strongly to the achievement of genuine happiness and fullness of a person. It is saying that good behavior can make one happy and successful. It can even lead one to heaven, not hell, according to many, like me, who believe in Christianity’s afterlife. Recognition of human rights is one of the most significant fruits of civilization but we may not have enjoyed it without those who claimed to be the chosen people of God.