Morality Is A Social Construct: The Reason Nigeria Is So Religious, Yet So Corrupt
Today, I want to talk about Morality.
When I say stuff like “Life has no meaning or inherent purpose” some people jump at it and ask: “If life has no purpose, what is stopping me from killing everybody and stealing and raping” etc?
Well, the answer is simple…Society. Or more specifically, lack of guts and societal consequences.
But that’s not strictly true. Human morality (or what we consider good or bad) exists in a bell curve spectrum, in which there are very few outliers.
Very very few.
Here’s what I mean by the Bell curve with very few outliers:
Only very few people are inherently good (saints) or bad (sociopaths). The rest of us fall in the middle of this curve, where our actions are shaped by the society we find ourselves in, which in turn is shaped largely by the socio-economic conditions therein.
In other words, most of us are only good/bad due to WHERE and HOW we were raised.
Your morality has nothing to do with your specific religion. Most of your morality comes from your immediate environment and the lifestyle you were exposed to.
And this environment/lifestyle I’m talking about is very vast:
- How wealthy or poor your family is,
- the schools you attended,
- how much exposure you had to the world outside your immediate environment (books, movies, social media, etc.),
- how rich your country is,
Let’s consider this example:
If you lose your wallet, say, in Diobu area of Port-Harcourt (Nigeria). It is very unlikely that you will find it intact (with all your money inside). But if the same thing happens, in say, the urban areas of Singapore or Sweden, you might even get a call from the Police station that someone found your wallet (on the street and brought it to the Police station intact).
Are Swedish people inherently better than Nigerians?
You might be tempted to answer “Yes!” but pause.
Over 99% of Nigerians are religious and claim to fear their god but only a minority of Swedish people identify strongly with any religion.
So why are they better behaved, commit fewer crimes and generally live a more stable life?
The answer is not in religion or even lack of religion.
The answer is actually in how wealthy their society is, or more specifically how egalitarian it is.
The more prosperous a society is – more jobs, better lifestyle, better education, better law enforcement by the Gov’t – the better behaved its citizens will be.
If I have a job where I earn $5,000/month, it will be hard for a politician to bribe me with $100 to vote for them or to snatch a ballot box.
This has absolutely nothing to do with whether I go to church or believe in God.
Have you ever wondered why the Prime Minister of the Netherlands can ride a bicycle to work every day and walk on the streets and take photographs with random people, but a Nigerian state governor runs around with 20-car convoys and is always scared of political assassins and ordinary citizens?
And then that same governor here will travel to London and ride the public train without fear of being mugged?
Think about it for a while…
Why do you think that despite how much we pray and cast and bind here, things continue to get worse while the Oyibo people who don’t pray as much (or care about religion) seem to have a better society?
What do you think Morality really is? How do you think it comes to be?
Morality doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Morality is not an objective phenomenon that exists outside of us. It is not your personal belief about whether God exists or not or how many times you pray or go to church/mosque.
Morality is about how you relate with other people. How your actions impact the well-being of others. (Pretty much how commerce or an “economy” doesn’t exist unless we’re interacting with others).
Think about it, if you’re the only person in the whole world, would concepts like stealing, murder, and rape exist? No.
Those concepts only have meaning because they describe our actions/relationships with others. God or no God, as long as we exist in society, a moral code must exist by necessity.
And because most of us exist within the normal distribution of a moral bell curve (the middle part in the graph above), our ‘goodness/badness’ is only as strong as the societal factors that incentivise them.
This is why, despite our religiosity remaining stable (or arguably increasing), Nigeria keeps getting worse. It is simply and squarely a socio-economic problem.
The poorer we get, the more people get desperate – shortsighted, self-serving, heartless, and even cynical. The more kidnapping, killings, Yahoo, and terrorism happen. No amount of prayers will save us.
If you like pray from now till you cry blood, if Nigeria doesn’t get richer, and our economy, healthcare system, and education don’t improve, our morality will never get better (we will continue to steal, kill and kidnap each other).
And no, your case is not different. You’re not special or chosen or whatnot. You’re simply a product of the society you live in.
Here are other content you might find useful:
- What Does It Mean To Be A Good Person?
- The Brutal Truth About Being Good: Ethical Dilemma
- How Do You Deal With Intrapersonal Conflict?:
- Religious Trauma: A Dark Side Of Religion [10 Steps To Overcome It]
- Why I Don’t Believe In Prayer Anymore:
Whether he’s behind the counter dispensing medication or in front of his laptop musing a piece, Azaya brings his unique perspective to everything he does. In his free time, you can catch him coding and always looking for ways to improve as a professional and an individual.”