Moral Compass (EP.12)

In Morals, Podcast by Will Luden6 Comments

Some people call it your True North. No matter; the questions are:

  • Do you have one?
  • If you have one, what is it?
  • Why is that your True North/Moral Compass?
  • Do you follow it?

If you don’t have a solid Moral Compass (MC) that you follow, then nothing else matters. Nothing. You will simply be a cork on the ocean of life, following the changing paths of the tides, currents and waves. I know; I have been there. And I still have to fight to stay with and strengthen my adherence to my True North.

“I’m not unmindful of man’s seeming need for faith; I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.” Frank Sinatra. So, what gets you through the night? And is that the same as a True North? Finding and following your True North will get you through the day and night in far better shape than pills and booze. And will set you up for continuing, healthy success.

What are some examples of an effective MC? And how do you know? Two things: 1. Your North has to be something born and fueled outside of you–with externally inspired values, goals and checkpoints. The danger is that our own internally generated principles may lull us into a false sense of commitment. There must be an outside entity to learn from, and to act as a touchstone–a place to check in to see how we are handling ourselves. This does not mean that you don’t need to internalize the external teachings and examples; all is certainly lost if you don’t. But it is equally certain that it cannot be just you. 2. That outside entity must be powerful enough to keep you on track even when it is hard. If your North’s power and influence in your life is weak, so will be your adherence to it.

What are some examples where both criteria are met? God comes immediately to mind. Whatever your definition, God meets both criteria–external and powerful. Depending upon your path to God, the external writings, religious leaders, ceremonies, legacies, etc., will be different, but each path has its external–and powerful–teachings, values and inspirations.

Teachers, whether more well-known masters like Confucius and Buddha, or somewhat lesser lights like Rumi and Lao Tsu, qualify as external and, if taken seriously, powerful. As do more modern leaders like Rick Warren or Tony Robbins. Philosophers such as Aristotle can also be a solid foundation for a True North. Look no further than his Nicomachean Ethics for support for this claim.

Are there some examples of wrong places to seek help to form and maintain your MC? Well, Snapple bottle caps are one example (no laughing here–I have seen worse). And Satan worship would be out. Better the Snapple cap.

Even harder than developing a MC is staying true to it. You will be besieged by teachings and cliches like, “You have to get along to go along.” and “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t trying.” Perhaps the most diabolically tempting is, “Just this once. You will have plenty of time to correct things later.” The “just this once” part is bad enough; there really are slippery slopes out there. And “later” is always now. Always.

How do I make sure that I will never fall off the path? A. You can’t. That would be like a child shedding their bicycle training wheels for the first time asking, “How do I make sure that I won’t fall while riding my bike?” The answer is to be careful, and get right back on when you fall. Have you ever seen a child learning to walk? Don’t they fall over and over, just to get up again and again? That’s how they learn. And that’s what we need to do. When we drift away from our True North, course adjust, recommit, and go back at it.

What is your Moral Compass, and what does it mean to you? Please respond in the comments; I am interested. As are others.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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Will Luden

As an author, speaker, public company board chair, family man, a man with many friends (and friends-to-be), citizen and a child of God, I am driven to contribute. One way to for me to contribute is to start thought-provoking discussions.My overall objective is to stimulate “Passionate, Relentless, Reasoning.” My specific goals include getting people to act (only) after Reasoning.
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Comments

  1. The simple answer for me is the Bible, and Jesus specifically. To me, that doesn’t mean that there are cookbook answers such as the “Thou shalt or shalt not”, but with constant (daily) reading and contemplation I can perform corrections as I go along to keep from going off course, much as a navigator regularly checks his craft’s position and provides guidance to the one steering. For most of us, that’s probably not sufficient. I think we need someone, a group, a counselor, friend, who can provide another set of feedback and let us know when we might be rationalizing or accepting less than our best from ourselves.
    BTW, I’m reading an excellent book by Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, that deals with some aspects of this problem.

  2. Got in to an interesting discussion the week you posted this with someone about a moral compass. Not someone of faith, her view is that society or our culture sets our norms, and that without Judeo-Christian values we’d be fine, thank you very much. I couldn’t believe she didn’t acknowledge the richness of our (American) heritage and how it was formed by those adhering to Judeo-Christian values. I commented I didn’t want to go back to the days of Molech and the plurality of idols and gods as described in the Old Testament. Interesting discussion.

    I am forever thankful that I was blessed to be born in the United States and raised by Christian parents who imparted to me a Biblically based moral compass. When I accepted Christ in 1975 and was baptized, that moral compass became easier to align with and adhere to. It offers us freedom!

    1. Author

      Hi Tim, thanks for your response. Did your debate partner tell you what here moral compass was? And I am with you; I am blessed at having been born here
      (USA privilege) and further blessed that He loves me. And guides me–when I listen…:).

      1. Her moral compass is based on growing up in a Catholic home. Her parents were active in their faith. So like it or not, her “lens” is Judeo-Christian despite her struggle with accepting Christ.

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