Oh, buddy, I hate this topic with a passion. I recently had a breakup, that despite limited communication due to the tension the discussion invoked, I believe that part of the issue was their heavy belief that ethics are subjective, which is true, but not in the way that was central to the discussion we were having. They were discussing morality. I was discussing ethics. However, due to the interchangeable and colloquial use of ethics and morals, people often don’t understand that they are using the wrong term.
I am sorry, not sorry to inform you all that ethics and morals are not the same, and you must be careful in how you use the term in communication. This is a significant issue in why so many arguments break out. Foundationally ethics are cultural and communal. This also includes subcultures. Morals are individual and are deeply connected to our experiences, nurture, and personal growth. When discussing how actions affect others, both matter; however, the impact is the basis of the term you use.
One of the many communities these conversations occur in is the polyamorous community. The terms consensual nonmonogamy and ethical nonmonogamy are different but also colloquially used interchangeably. Polyamory is distinctly about the ethics of nonmonogamous loving relationships; Not defining love for others; Not telling people how to present that love; Not the priority of certain types of intimacy. It is about the cultural ethics of this specific subset of nonmonogamy. A dictionary definition does not explain the intricacies of cultural expressions and agreement throughout the community. No, quick definition does. The base definitions that float about are introductions not, the full picture of what polyamory is.
I will share some cursory links to help people understand ethics and morals as different terms that cover different relationships to similar central ideas.
What is the difference between Ethics, Morality and the Law?
What’s The Difference Between “Morals” vs. “Ethics”?
What’s the Difference Between Morality and Ethics?
You say morals, I say ethics – what’s the difference?
Ethics, morality, law – what’s the difference?
Compare and contrast “morality” and “ethics.”
Ethics And Morality
An Analysis on Law Vs. Ethics and Morals in a Changing Society
The Battle Between Morality Vs. Ethics: Which One Wins?
Ethics and Morality
TW: Suicide and eating disorder mentions.
So this is one of the many reasons why I have tried to be more healthful. When I first got my ID I decided to be an organ donor. As I got older though I realized I probably didn’t have super healthy organs because of my eating disorders.
I was struggling with my eating disorder so I knew I was going to struggle to be restrictive in any capacity. After the first suicide attempt that I had in which people were involved and I got put into the hospital the care team was extremely concerned that for the majority of my life I had never been attached to living. In fact, I live my life with the idea that I was going to go at any point in time. They were concerned that so many people in my life were unaware of that fact. “How did [I] hide that so well from so many people?” “How did no one see how my previous attempts affected my body?”
While I was getting that care they reminded me that it is okay to attach your life to something that is not yourself if it helps you get to a healthier place. So I have been searching for the healthiest thing for me to attach my life to for me and only me. What I’ve discovered is that that thing is service.
I enjoy service activities. I enjoy helping people. And the major thing that I get out of it is that I actually feel attached even if it’s just for a short time. So even though being healthy is hard I always try to make small changes for my health based on what I can do at the time and how my eating disorder is affecting me to try to make my body as healthy as I can so that if I go my organs may be able to help someone.
I damaged many of my organs with my eating disorder but some of that damage was repairable for instance my heart was weakened because of the stress of my eating disorder but my care team reminded me that if I exercise ate healthier much of that damage would be repaired because it hadn’t gotten to the most extreme.
I don’t know I just thought that sharing about how considering others can positively impact your view of self and life.
Here is a “Quick and Dirty” on cultures and their impacts on economics so it can be better understood what is meant by “something not being a culture issue, but an economic issue”. Things can be a really important cultural issues with deep heritage ties, but most people will not understand capitalism’s impact until we discuss the purely economic side. Think of all the subcultures we know and how access to money in the way many country’s work affect how you can interact with the various aspects of that culture and your freedom to interact with it.
I particularly find the idea that the deep cultural ties related to Indigenous populations have been/are being taken and commodified. This is not a new problem. Indigenous cultures have faced this for years which is where many of our trends come from (also for other POC cultures). We have been fighting the commodifying of cultural items and making cultural erasure the new definition of cultural appreciation.
Some cultures appreciate this because it shares their culture even if it is diluted. Others do not due to the long history of erasure, structural racism in many cultures, and the imperialist (or colonizing) outlooks of many nationalities. There is no right and wrong about this, but it is important to listen to the perspectives of people and how capitalism’s use of culturally significant items impacts many POC on multiple levels.
These links are in no way the end all be all nor do I believe they speak more highly of one perspective over another. These just inform on how one thing impacts another.
Erasure of Indigenous Knowledge and its Impact on Culture excerpted from INTRODUCTION TO CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR
What Drives Native American Poverty?
Yes, Culture Matters for Economic Development
The Economic Reality Of Native Americans And The Need For Immediate Repair
Identity Erasure by Andrea Wharff
Beyond Standing Rock: The Native American Economic Experience
Economics and Culture by David Throsby
Migration, cultural bereavement and cultural identity
Cultural impact on national economic growth
Shifting Neighborhoods: Gentrification and cultural displacement in American cities
Review: Identity and Erasure: Finding the Elusive Caribbean
Culture and the economy: understanding the dynamics of globalization
Indigenous Peoples in the Capitalist World System: Researching, Knowing, and Promoting Social Justice
Systemic Inequality: Displacement, Exclusion, and Segregation
I just want to invite everyone to take a moment, really think about what your definition of activism is. I really mean it. Take a moment. What does activism mean to you?
Activism is disruptive. It’s not supposed to make you comfortable. It makes you think, even in ways you don’t assume, it should make you do so. It’s supposed to make you feel. It supposed to drive change. It does, even when we hate it.
But there are also different ways in which this disruption occurs, which is why many people have a tendency to be upset with movements and find flaws with the fundamentals of them because of the type of activism that is engaged. It doesn’t fit their perspective or their personal preferences of how to disseminate that idea. There’s nothing wrong with being uncomfortable with the way, things are done.
Let’s take a moment to think about some of the emotional movements that have happened and are still happening. These are not the only ones that have happened; these are ones that I am comfortable with an emotional fallout over discussing these.
The Civil Right Movement
Gaining voters rights/addressing voters’ suppression.
Black Lives Matter
Each of these movements actively engages different types of activism and some that make people uncomfortable. Some of these just honestly hurt people’s feelings as they make them addressed beliefs they have about the world that they live in that they did not want to consider or think about.
Y’all the reality of the situation is that activism sucks. For everyone. It’s emotional. It’s making you address things that are not fun. Everybody wants just to enjoy life and live. The individuals organizing activism and the people who experience it. It’s an abundance of emotional labor. The problem is that without action, there are groups of individuals that can’t enjoy the life that they have and they only have that one. No matter what spiritual belief system you have, we can all agree that there is only a guarantee for what we have now, but that can get sucked away on the whim of political choices by people who are removed from the situation. Activism addresses that our current existence should not be less because of how other people believe we should exist.
So for just a quick down and dirty, let’s review some of the ways that activism exists.
- It exists in the Arts and things that move us.
- It exists in acts of defiance and Civil Disobedience that disturb the people around us and point out the inequity and injustice of the system we live in.
- It exists in community support and cooperatives, community building and radically engaging a world that seeks to separate minorities from their community.
- It exists in small silent changes in our everyday lives that make people want to change. It exists in our use of new technologies.
- It exists when you actively engage the system that gives us information, providing new, decolonize, and reformed information.
- It exists in protest and nonviolent demonstrations. It exists in personal accountability.
- It exists in radically defining what spirituality means to you and identify what your personal philosophies are.
Many of you will be surprised if you take a moment of introspection to note that you often engage in forms of activism that on a large scale you dislike because it’s so visible and disruptive, but you do it in small ways every day. I invite everyone to sit with yourself. Think about why activism as a whole or activism in part makes you uncomfortable; why when it’s related to different movements, it makes you uncomfortable.
Activism Is disruptive and uncomfortable. That’s an unfortunate fact.
Sometimes it’s explosive. Sometimes it’s a slow burn.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that POC don’t have an issue with feminism bc many of our cultures have their own version of that from where we historically are from.
POC seem to have an issue with colonization and Western feminist views being used to yet again impose imperialist views on our social constructs.
This is where intersectional feminism came in to attempt to address the erasure of women of color, including the woman who laid the foundation of what became womanism and black feminism.
Look into the POC perspective behind women’s rights over the centuries. The views are so similar, but there are huge differences especially in Western countries on how the dangerous aspects of patriarchy are addressed.
In Western countries not using a label associated with feminism is often viewed negatively. but I think we forget it’s also a political stance and some people can’t marry that with other aspects of their identities.
Do we ask ourselves why? Do we address that in other places women fight for their rights in very similar ways, but the way we do it for instance in the US is oppressive to them?
Do we address that US culture is a mixture of various perspectives and that’s one of the reasons why feminism is so hard to not add extra context to?
I think this is something we should really mull over during BHM.
If you get angry at women, especially WOC, for not identifying with a word, when a conversation shows y’all have similar views, does that mean you care more about the label or the context?