I found this week's readings interesting and very thought provoking, although I was particularly disturbed by "Original Child Bomb" by Thomas Merton. I believe this was probably Merton's intended response to this poem. If nothing else, it certainly gets the reader thinking and hopefully questioning our actions as a nation.
I think Haidt's definition of moral systems is an interesting one and one which I believe would help reconcile conflicts between religious morality and secular morality, at least on the surface. If, as a human group, people viewed morality in this way (values, practices, institutions, psychological mechanisms used to make social life possible), I believe we might recognize the commonalities religious and secular definitions of morality have. I truly believe that if we keep the "Golden Rule" to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself at the forefront, our differences in what we view as moral or immoral behavior start to diminish to some extent. The problem though is that most of us can't get past these differences and often forget the Golden Rule and replace it with the "If you don't do things my way, you're wrong" rule.
Ninian Smart's chapter on 20th century worldviews had some pertinent points which seemed to reflect Haidt's definition of morality and support my interpretation of that definition. Smart states that different worldviews should be able to learn from one another and as "global citizens we ought to make the effort to apply informed empathy towards understanding one another's value systems." (Smart, pg. 155) By understanding differing worldviews, we are not only able to communicate with one another but recognize that each of us has a unique contribution to make to the world at large. By opening ourselves up to differing worldviews, Smart believes we "combine loyalty to one's tradition and respect, and so toleration, for the traditions of others." (Smart, pg. 156) By respecting one another's worldviews, we acknowledge the inherent dignity of the other. (Smart, pg. 157)
The problem with this idea though, is as logical and all encompassing as it seems to be, it requires people to open themselves up to others and the possibility that beliefs differing from our own have value. I believe this is a very difficult task for many if not all humans to accomplish. It takes some fortitude to be able to hold onto your own personal beliefs but at the same time be open to exploring and accepting other beliefs. I think that people cling to and find comfort in organized or traditional religion because it gives them a road map to follow in life. I think many people have little faith in themselves or humanity at large to make the "right" choices without set rules. This of course, is not to say, that organized or traditional religions have no merit or value. I believe, like Smart, that if we take a critical look at the basis of systems of belief we will find that "the various goals and...