What is the most important ethical value in our lives?
'O' level student-inmate from institution TM1
Trying to put a finger on what is the most important ethical value can actually be harder than it seems. It is not like picking the perfect dress for a date or like buying a new car. It is definitely more complex. Responsibility, integrity, altruism, resilience... These are only some in a long list of values and all of them lead to doing different good things which makes it essential to regard all good values with equal measure. Look at it this way; to cook up the perfect dish, a chef needs just enough of every single ingredient. Every spice, every seasoning, no matter how minute, is important. Leaving just one out or putting less of a certain component will affect the end result. Sometimes it could even destroy the whole dish altogether. But, in every recipe, there is a base ingredient. Something that cannot be substituted and is imperative to the dish entirely. This base ingredient is the metaphorical equivalent of the root of human goodness. And that root has always been love which, to me, is the most important value we should look into.
I sense eyebrows knitted into frowns after you have read the previous paragraph but I will explain. I know many would argue that love cannot be considered a value. Love is a feeling, an emotion. Values are attributes. I understand where all these are coming from but walk with me for a while and try to see it from my perspective. Keep your mind open because I certainly have an important message to deliver – something I believe in completely and encourage others to fathom.
How can one be immoral if one does everything out of love? How can you go wrong? Love is selfless, love is unconditional. Acting out of love would be even greater than altruism. It gives purpose. It empowers. It can even create miracles. Imagine a hardcore drug addict finally mending his ways upon the arrival of a newborn child. Imagine a single mother capable of raising her children single handedly, going against all odds, never faltering at any obstacle. Out of love, the hardship becomes manageable, the impossible becomes possible. Take love out of this equation and what would you get?
Recently, I experienced a great loss. Nothing in life could have ever prepared me for this indescribable agony. I lost my only brother. My little brother, who was also my best friend, my confidante, my protege, my mentor, has gone to pass. It was devastating. Pure, heart-wrenching sorrow enveloped me. I became miserable. Sometimes to the point of being infuriated. But underneath all that, there was something else. Something that was much stronger. At the base of all this, at its root, I discovered, was love. Love was just standing in a corner, strong and proud, waiting for the perfect time to take my hand and lift my spirits up. Love for my brother, love from my brother, love from everyone around, love that I have nurtured and given lots of attention to throughout the years. It was not resilience that pulled me out of that dark period, it was not honour – it was love. Love which made me become resilient.
We live in a world, today, where senseless wars are fought, racial inequality is happening when you turn a corner, violence, oppression. Fight fire with fire, they say. An eye for an eye. Are these acts out of hate? I actually do not think so. I think, rather than hate, these actions spur out of fear. Fear of loss of power, fear of the unknown. But love can conquer all that. With love, you do not need to fear losing power; love is power. And love can give courage to educate rather than fight. Love is the guideline to making good decisions. Love is the key.
If love has never been considered a value, maybe it should be now. To lead with love is surely to be leading with the right intentions. With the right intentions, even if you make a mistake, you will be willing to admit and amend. Love is the root of all good values. Spread love. Fear less.