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HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS are greatly affected by accidents and their effects. Even though they are basically unchanged, relationships are hard to study through the entire history of mankind. In the ancient world, most people never traveled more than twenty miles from their birthplace. Today a person can reach any destination on Earth within a twenty hour flight. Yet, the nature of people never changed; only their needs changed.
The great majority of people philosophize on a personal level, focusing on to what immediately affects their lives. For convenience and easy relationships with the others, each person puts on a "good face" to show to society, while hiding their "ugly face." To seem nice is to avoid conflict and make life easier.
Because people are either good, bad, indifferent, or in-between, everyone adapts a philosophy that fits his or her nature, education, and actions. Logic dictates that the smarter we act and better we are at planning our lives, the fewer bad accidents we should have. The problem is that we depend throughout our lives on the doings of others. Our friendships, marriages, business, and political experiences are based on how our partners treat us and react to our actions. In brief, we are subjected to outside forces we cannot always anticipate or control. We are affected by our doings and others' doings as well.
Even elementary ethics, such as shaking hands and nodding the head, can be highly controversial and accidental in different societies and cultures. Not only they can be cause for punishment, but they can negatively affect relationship between different breeds of people. When it is comes to human relationships, it all comes down to the "moral" aspect of these pro-accidental interactions. Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) believed that how people behave towards each other is more important than what they achieve in life. Once again, however, we must refer to God as the only moral perfection, since He is the original law-giver of how to live our existence.
When a group of people volunteer to get together and worship the same god, they agree to obey that god's rules. Those rules are already on display with the "rights" and "wrongs," "do's and don'ts" for everyone to understand. Without objective knowledge of good and evil, and with disbelief that God watches us, anything can be permissible. Under these circumstances, it is easy for a dignified human to change into a savage animal. This would create equally savage relationships among society members. To prevent that, even the most primitive tribal societies enforce certain codes of moral and ethics. Ancient philosophers were almost obsessed with different codes of morals and ethics, for it was believed that these strengthen a nation.
Because of its power of persuasion to do good in life, the Church played a huge role in providing strong and just moral values to the masses. In this way, children were spiritually nourished with the importance of being good and living pious lives. The church provided motivation: only good people receive salvation, and they will live happily in heaven. The religious moral code was the first step in regulating human relationships on the basis of compassion and generosity.
The definition of a happy person is someone who has few regrets at the end of his or her life. Unlike animals, which do not have the notion of sin, humans are regretful beings, for they sin a lot. Most religious dogmas are built on fear, guilt, and the need to confess sins. Many religions anticipate sins as unavoidable accidents of life and want to remove them by baptism, circumcision, meditation, and so on. Some Oriental religions are focused on the elimination of desire in life, and all sins and sufferings would be eliminated as well.
Christianity was very keen about sin, and invented the "confession" as a way of obtaining forgiveness from God. Because God was too distant, priests represented Him. For hundreds of years, the Catholic Church sold indulgences, or promissory notes to remove sins and eternal punishments. One of its Earthly effects can be seen even today: the collection of money built the Vatican and the monumental cathedrals throughout Europe.
Confession can be also done in front of family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and any other people we sin against. In fact by confessing, we get that burning feeling of guilt "off our chest." At the same time, we commit ourselves not to repeat the same sins. Many dying people need to confess their sins or their secrets; otherwise, it is believed that the soul cannot leave their lifeless bodies. It must be human nature to reveal painful secrets, regardless how much time has passed since the transgressions. Many times, this last confession generates accidents, which were postponed from happening because the secrets were kept for so long.
To regret means to be sorry for something. It means that there had been the possibility to act better and to be happy about something, rather than to create a deplorable situation and feel miserable about it. In anyone's life, regrets are inevitable, because they seem to trail our activities. Most regrets come from the fact that we do not know how to do things better. Regret can also come from the fear of taking risks in life. The average person settles into a job, a house, a marriage and other relationships, and rarely wants to make a radical change and search for a better life.
Returning to the topic of morals, some church rules were not fashionable all the time. Burning suspected witches at the stake, acceptable in 1600, we would today call murder. Today we also consider it murder if we execute a serial killer. Evidently "moral accidents" of right and wrong, have a different code of justice according to the time they occur, and the religion and rules of the land. David Hume was deeply involved in studying morals and their power to build pleasant and useful character in people. He believed that all our virtues, as well as our vicious actions, come from the goodness and badness cultivated in us. Moral principles had to be met with the "sentiment of approbation" of people who value goodness and justice. Obviously, moral character produces moral relationships.
Morality is a big part of many philosophical thoughts, and deontology is a subchapter that studies morality. Kant was a most ardent deontologist, as he believed that all our actions must be in the frame of the moral law. Because in Greek, deon means "duty," I shall briefly analyze that important moral aspect of our lives. Duty is a person's activity that holds implications that things be done "right" according to his training and job description. As a rule, principles of right and wrong lead to moral duties and to a virtuous life.
Ordinary duties are perform by a parent, farmer, a clerk and a teacher. Extraordinary duties are performed by specially trained people such as surgeons, highly ranked politicians, and scientists. In the final analysis, there is no big or small job, nor is there an important or an unimportant job. There are only jobs well done or poorly done. Accidents abound while duties are carried out. A police officer is tempted to take bribes and allow criminals to operate; a surgeon may be too tired to perform a complicated operation; a clerk is negligent in keeping his files in proper order.
The last example brings into discussion "negligence," which is the opposite of duty. To neglect is to disregard the importance of something, or to leave something undone. It is caused by laziness and lack of respect for one's duty. Negligence is probably the most common plague that breeds accidents in human relationships. One example may explain it all:
In the fall of 1938, a hurricane was rapidly approaching the New England coast from the Atlantic. Many ships detected the hurricane and radioed messages about its strength and direction to the main land. However, no forecaster bothered to read the alarming messages, and the public was not promptly informed to evacuate their homes.
At the same time, in distant Europe, Hitler's divisions had already entered Austria, and they were marching to occupy the Sudetenland. American newsmen were listening to the news from their colleagues stationed in Berlin concerning the Hitler-Chamberlain historic meetings. None bothered to decipher Morse code messages from the ocean liners. When the hurricane hit the coast with 130 miles per hour winds, it was too late for the trapped homeowners to evacuate. Most of the beach houses, along with trees and other objects were uprooted and vanished in the fury of the ocean. Some 700 people vanished with them, and 63,000 people were left homeless. These kinds of man-made accidents lead to unavoidable "regrets" by the ones who could have done something about it.
Once again, Effectology may have the right answer to these common safe behaviors: to challenge the unknown means to expose oneself to hidden accidents. This is no different from walking in a dark basement, where sooner or later one will hit or stumble into something that will cause a serious injury. There is no guarantee that taking a risk to improve something may end successfully, but the idea of trying to achieve something is the most important thought in life.
How many people have never used their inborn gifts because they were afraid of failing? Instead, they settled for mediocre jobs and lives that gave them security and pensions. They never took a challenge, venturing into "uncharted territories." Those people are the ones who are frustrated and unhappy. They watch successful people in the news and envy or even hate them with all their hearts. Deep down, the gifted but fearful person knows that he or she could do better than the famous people he or she watches.
After a lifetime of not doing following their calling, these people die with one thing in mind: "If only I had tried…" But they never braved the odds and tried to better themselves. An entirely different set of regrets is generated by the ones who try the impossible and fail. Usually they blame relationships with others whom they hold accountable for their failure. However, regrets can improve human relationships when they generate a powerful desire to correct wrong doings.
As a rule, humans are creatures of comfort and social animals. They resist change, because it is too much trouble to change one's inborn nature. Individual character seems to be shaped during the teenage years and tends to remain the same for the rest of one's life. Judged as a whole, the human character has not changed in the last five thousand years, owning the same basic instincts, passions, and noble and horrific deeds.
Indeed, humanity advanced on the ladder of civilization, but that did not stop the Romans, the Spaniards, the Russians, the Chinese, the Germans, the Japanese, and the Americans from committing genocide of Biblical proportions against their fellow men. As a matter of fact, the twenty-first century began with much bloodshed in Palestine and the terrorist attack on the homeland of America.
The tragic accident of 9/11/2001 left America and the civilized world with feelings of vulnerability and insecurity. It changed the global philosophy from brotherhood and pacifism, into revenge. Unfortunately, revenge is a boomerang action that always brings other revenge in a perpetual vicious circle.