Of Casinos and confectionery.
“Mum,” began Fintan, eight, with a certain puzzled intensity, “Why is gambling a sin?”
Syahidah’s curious eyes appraised his puzzled eyes, a little surprised at the question.
“It is a sin because gambling is addictive and it ruins your life.”
“Oh my God!”, Fintan exclaimed, with shocked, widening eyes, “What is chocolate, then? I am addicted to chocolate!”
She had to smile, at the connection he drew – and reassured him that chocolate was fine.
This little conversation didn’t stop him eating chocolate, subsequently, though perhaps he indulged a little more appreciatively of his “addiction”.
I like Fintan’s question. It shows that he is trying to understand the moral codes of adults and come to an appreciation of why it is that certain behaviours are thought bad and others not. It also shows that he considers that this adult labelling is not intrinsically clear – that is, things which we deem wrong, do not necessarily appear wrong to him. He could not, himself, understand why gambling would be a “sin”. He must have considered the activity – the playing of games for money – and not been able to see what was wrong with that. This suggests that the innate morality of a child and the constructed morality of adults are not the same thing. He appraises the morality of things from a fresh, innocent and largely uninfluenced position, not yet having been indoctrinated into adult thinking. It is refreshing to see him come to his own viewpoints as to what is wrong and what is not. Of course, by asking his mother for her understandings, he is seeking to teach himself the adult world’s moral stance – or at least the moral stance of my wife’s adult world. However, I see that, in him, there is another morality, already extant, to which he is comparing his mother’s views.
This leads me to wonder what his moral views would be, were he not to be instructed at all in the constructed adult world’s ones. Would his views remain as they are now – the moral outlook of a child? The experiment cannot be done, and should not be, for moral reasons, ironically...but it is interesting to speculate how much of our moral views are indoctrinated as we grow up, and how many are intrinsic. It is clear that Fintan has intrinsic views, but that he is seeking an understanding of the extrinsic ones. This suggests that he is prepared to believe that those outside himself, have more moral understanding than he does. His outlook therefore, is that he is prepared to learn what people he trusts believe to be so.
It is revealing that he considers moral issues at all. I am not sure how many kids these days, actually think of moral matters...but Fintan does. He is concerned that he lives his life, in the right – but to do so, he must first come to an understanding of what is right, and what is not.
I mustn’t let him spoil his enjoyment of chocolate, though...for that would be an unnecessary loss. Now, I am just going to give him a piece of one of his favoured chocolate bars...
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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