It’s not about what others do

Why focusing on your own morality is more important that focusing on the behavior of others.

As you may know, I have a thing about shopping carts. I believe it is moral to return them for a variety of reasons. It helps keep parking lots clear of carts, reduces damage to other people’s cars, it makes the job of the cart jockey’s easier and it’s just a nice thing to do. Plus, I could use the extra exercise, even if it is just walking 2 spots over to return a cart.

The other day I was very excited to see a guy at a market pick up a cart from the lot that wasn’t put away and take it with him to the store, thus making one less cart left in the wrong spot in the lot.  I felt like giving him a high five of solidarity.  I didn’t. I thought it might be a bit weird, so I just put mine back in the cart return and headed home.

Of course, he could have asked me for my cart, because sometimes people do that, but I realized it was actually better that he took the one that had been left out. If he had taken mine, the other would still have been left out and would have been a hazard. With him and me together, that was two carts put away properly instead of one.

Here is the thing though; he did not know that I am the sort of person who returns my cart. For all he knew, I was going to leave my cart out too.  He took that cart without expectation that anyone would notice or care. He did it because he thought it was the right thing to do, even though it might have been undone immediately by the next person.

To me, this speaks to the heart why I choose to be a Humanist. It’s not about what others choose to do. It is about what I choose to do, regardless of what others do.  And this for me is what makes Humanism so powerful. Yes, it’s about morality, but it’s actually more about how I choose morality for myself. Not to be a self-righteous jerk dictating how others should behave. But because this is who I want to be for me.

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