Knowing Right From Wrong – Zujanbeni M Lotha, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Moral uprightness – is the epitome that every society strives to attain. But it is also very subjective sometimes, as it has been observed that societies have constructed different degrees of moral uprightness for reasons best defined by them. In Nagaland, the local news regularly talks about crime, racketeering, embezzlement, backdoor appointments and more which are accounts of dishonoring moral values. We have conveniently created different categories of corruption and bribery in which ‘less’ is somehow okay and ‘more’ is absolutely condemnable; there are ‘consideration’ and ‘special consideration’ categories to make exceptions for certain individuals or groups, which are appreciated and applauded on ‘humanitarian’ and ‘compassionate grounds’. All of this prevails, while the silent unaddressed question hangs in the air – have we been made to compromise on some of our moral values and uprightness while doing so?

                        Knowing Right From Wrong

It is a believed notion that: A dead branch cannot support a falling tree. Whether one will agree with me or not, ‘morality’ is to be considered as the base of our social entity to consider right from wrong. From the formative age of human development, morality was viewed as a basic element of human relationship and interaction, and that one’s action impacts fellow beings in society. An individual cannot live and excel alone and one’s thoughts and actions are carried out in regard to others. In the absence of morality, social life and peaceful co-existence are impossible. Moral consciousness tends to be higher when we are in a social group, but once away from the group one does not feel the moral constraints, since members in society are directly or indirectly connected to us. We face moral issues everyday and our reaction depends on the degree of our morality.

Any moral conduct is not less or more as they contribute to the quality of our life. Negligence of moral decision by anyone causes people around us to suffer; as such, being mindful of others is an attainment of social solidarity. Rules and pressures from society are one way for the development of morality but it is best when individuals have their own moral choice of action.

Moral obligation is also indispensable in our spiritual life. It creates a sense of what will happen to one’s soul after death as a final consequence. Dwelling in the lust of flesh and boasting on what we senselessly do, drift us away from the eternal reward. It is what we do with the physical form that will decide one’s destination. We are warned that every deed, good and bad, will be judged by God. Are we working for salvation or damnation?

What I feel about our present society is that it needs morality more than ever before and every individual is responsible for it. The distinction of desirable and undesirable, good and bad is slowly and seemingly becoming dimmer. The local news regularly talks about crime, racketeering, embezzlement, backdoor appointments etc., which are accounts of dishonoring moral values. With changing times, new customs and new standards come along, as such, the level of morality too changes, but one should always be reminded of what our root faith is.

When our society was young, undefiled, morality co-existed that can be evidenced from age old stories of our ancestors although branded as savages. As years and decades flipped by, people’s behaviors become lighter and casual and the problems become thicker. Individualism, micro-interaction are ousting out morality due to want of power and to take the highest seat in the society. We are replacing our responsibilities for our rights, expecting others to treat us in a rightful way while we shun sets of moral conduct. In a period of continuous progress, rapid rise of new ideas and beliefs, the core value of moral conduct is slowly weaning and eclipsing from our society. Prevalence of moral codes are missing in many realities, hence no proper conclusion and many social problems remain unexplained. A good moral soil is needed to connect different roots of social dilemmas for a stronger human entity. There should be no question whether alone or in a group; morality should be one’s footing ground. Morality cannot only be seen as a religious principle, it is also a behavior. There is no gain for me if my selfish wants lead to other’s misfortune.

Social web survives on moral codes yet we seldom give space to it. Leaders are to choose the path of integrity and virtuousness as a manner of leading because the condition of society highly depends on leadership. Let not the coming generation curse us for our actions today. The involvement and guidance of older generation in reviving morality and explaining why certain things are immoral amongst the younger generation is needed and in the process, the latter should give a heart of acceptance. This will someday produce a society that honors virtue. When our society is on the verge of falling apart, strengthening and advocating moral codes will help solve varied social ills and create a bit of heaven. We are living in such a time where those who are false within, and honorable on the outside are very common. If one is to take pride at all, it should be of morality and not to act wise when we are not.

Let not our selfish evil desires pollute the society we are living in and make it easy prey for an outsider. We are much more modernized in almost every aspect as compared to our ancestors, but we are not even at par with their moral codes, which were so pure and rare. For a change of future, it starts now with you and I. Pressing ahead, I urge everyone to be more watchful of one’s steps and action, and be more meaningful and considerate towards one another. I dread how eligible citizens will be using their birthright for the crucial days coming in a few months from now. As people who regard God in the highest, do not be blinded to the truth which alone is the rescuer and the answer. Though the everyday challenges may be tough and temptations surround us, let what is true and honourable prevail. Let more of “we” and less of “I” be seen in our actions and let us work selflessly for common good. What we think may not always be right, but let our actions be harmless to humanity.

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

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