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Morality and Culture

A person’s morals play a big role in his or her interaction with the surrounding. Likewise, a person’s environment determines a great deal of elements in a person’s morals. The term moral refers to the perception and interpretation of an activity, an utterance or behavior as good and acceptable (Cook 12). It has been frequently used interchangeably with ethics, which refers to consideration of a situation as either good or bad. Culture, on the other hand, refers to the practices and activities carried out by a group of people and that is usually passed down from one generation to another. This essay discusses how the interaction of cultural activities and moral issues go hand in hand to determine a person’s view and judgment of an act as being moral or not.

Morality is influenced by and largely the culture from which a person hails from. In most cases, one’s background acts as the guiding light of making out the difference between good and bad. Research demonstrates that the background of an individual has a lot to tell about the person’s upbringing and cultural practices (Cook 56). Such practices when instilled in a person from a tender age and over a period become the code by which the person lives. The various communities, which practice certain acts, and rituals, which may be viewed as being out of the ordinary in other communities, can prove the essence of this fact. A noteworthy example is polygamy. In most modern societies, the practice is not only shunned, but also looked down upon. Laws have even been legislated to curb the practice and to deter people from marrying more than one person at the same time. Nevertheless, there still exist communities in which the practice remains as rife as ever. In this context, any member of the community, in question, is inducted into the practice and sees it as normal (Thomas 67). However, a person who hails from a different community that does not fancy polygamy may view the polygamous counterpart as being devoid of his or her morals.

People evaluate right and wrong based on the cultural practices they are familiar with. This applies to not only present day, but also even to yesteryears. In the Bible, certain acts were considered as a sin, depending on the community in question. There were pagan communities, which practiced idolatry, worshipping fabricated objects. In such communities, their morals did not forbid them from practicing such acts, a case of culture have a bearing on morality. In other communities, especially the staunch Christians, idolatry was a grievous offence and a sign of disrespect to God. This stark difference highlights the fact that morals are related to culture (Thomas 211).

In some avenues, it has been argued that morality is a universal affair and has little relation, if any with culture. In such instances, examples such as kindness and honesty have been presented to prove the case. However, these arguments do not provide a precise and comprehensive look at the question in hand. Indeed, it is true that moral aspects such as kindness and honesty are classified as general moral aspects (Cook 129). However, what comes to attention is that such acts and practices may be acceptable in the eyes of the world, but not to a person’s localized community. As stated earlier, a person’s immediate environment usually has a lot to say as regards the eventual turn out of a person. According to the community from which the subject comes, kindness may be viewed as a weakness of sorts and honesty may not be given much thought. For the subject, the definition of morality as regards kindness or even honesty takes a completely different outlook. Thus, the notion that morality is universally related does not give a comprehensive view.

The question of morality  boils down to an individual’s upbringing. There is nothing more close to and associated with a person’s upbringing than the practices around him or her, the culture.