A few days ago someone I know asked how we can know if someone is a moral person. Conversations like this are fascinating to me due to how much they reveal about the world views of everyone who throws in their two cents.
My theory is that moral people don’t brag about it.
In fact, they don’t talk about it much at all. The more someone talks about having great morals they are, the less I’m inclined to believe them. Bringing it up over and over again makes me wonder why they’re so interested in making sure other people see them as a upstanding citizen.
Do they like the attention? Are they trying to subtly manipulate everyone into thinking of them as an authority figure? Is this an attempt to misdirect our attention from what’s going on behind the mask?
I completely understand the urge for recognition, but there won’t always be other people around when you’re debating what to do. Doing the right thing is its own reward. Maybe someone will notice your work. Maybe they won’t. Your words and actions are just as meaningful either way though.
One of the things I appreciate the most from my Mennonite grandparents is their overpowering reluctance to be the centre of attention. Any attempt to toot your own horn is considered prideful and rude. I may be a non-believer, but I’m still a bit suspicious of anyone who feels the need to point out what a good person they are.
It’s sort of like when recording artists brag about how much money they have or their prowess in the bedroom. Is it possible it’s all true? Sure, but I think it’s far more likely to be a marketing ploy.
And I want to know what they’re selling before I buy into it.
4 Responses to Moral People Don’t Brag About It
This brings to mind an expression, “There are those that do, and those that talk about it.” I agree with your premise, those who talk about morals are seldom those who live them.
I’d never heard that expression before. Nice!
Generally, I agree with your observation. When a local car dealer told me he was honest, I immediately doubted that he was. Don’t tell me, show me. He tried to sell me a car with a transmission problem. He swore he didn’t know about it. I didn’t believe him.
That said, as a very out of the closet atheist and writer, I am constantly forced to defend myself of charges that atheists are inherently immoral. This forces me to mention my moral beliefs and actions, if for no other reason than to show that godless people can be every bit as moral as the religious. One of the purposes of my blog is to show that those who scream about morality the loudest are often immoral themselves.
That isn’t really something that happens in Toronto. Most people are private about their religion (or lack thereof) up here. It’s refreshing.
I think I’d probably do the same thing you do if I had those kind of experiences regularly!