I spend a lot of time contemplating questions about life and living, examining them from as many angles as possible. I ran into a tweet that captured one of the questions that I have asked myself in times past and played with. Here it is:
I See movies where thieves ride into the sunset with Billions of dollars, evading police and all.
Whats the moral lesson? Crime pays?
Very interesting question, I must agree. Once upon a time, I would have had issues with such portrayals too. However, I got to the point where it became clear to me that movies, books and other forms of art are not necessarily intended to teach moral lessons. Many times, they just depict reality. Or they play on fantasies. And sometimes, yes, they push a moral lesson. Always, they entertain.
Does a violent movie necessarily promote violence? I would say, No. But does it depict the kind of world that we live in? Certainly. Does a romantic book necessarily promote romance? I’d say, No.
But back to the subject of morals. If you want to teach morals, it must be based on values, not on what pays. Look around you: crime pays. The reality is that often, people steal, get away with it and live off the loot for life. Lots of bad stuff go on in this world that people benefit from. In the real world, rude, nasty and inconsiderate people get ahead, running others down on their way up the ladder. In the real world, manipulators and blackmailers have a field day and are hailed as achievers.
So, don’t tell people that acting bad does not pay. While a few are naive, many people are not blind. They can see that it pays. If you want to push and promote morals, do it from the standpoint of values – the positions of good and bad. That is the only valid way to promote morals. Morals aren’t about what pays. If it is strictly about what pays, let’s all just cross over to the other side right away.