Ethics as an Evolving Norm

"Snake," by Sharon Apted, taken from [PublicDomainPictures.Net]; this image is in the public domain. Life and ethics are always evolving.
“Snake,” by Sharon Apted, taken from [PublicDomainPictures.Net]; this image is in the public domain.
Human ethics and social norms, in general, are evolving to be more inclusive, more loving, more nurturing, more understanding over time. This takes place because of man’s ongoing reaching out to God. God is love. Whether man consciously conducts this reaching out, or whether he does so as a means of acting on a deep personal yearning for the good which he does not so overtly identify, this process of evolving does take place.

This evolving pursuit emerges as an ongoing interchange between the individual and society. The existing social norm informs the selfhood of the individual as it is formed. This selfhood enjoys a measure of independent existence, and turns its attention onto itself and up toward the divine. The divine reaches down to the level the individual is able to reach; and the individual experiences the unconditional love of God.

This rewards and validates the endeavors of the individual and becomes a new height of human experience. This individual creates a template for emulation, and society as a whole strives for a new level of the good. This new normative standard informs the selfhoods of the next generation of individuals, and the process repeats itself.

The Evolving Norm as Corresponding to Biological Evolution

We have gradually evolved as living beings in this way from reptiles who were limited to being responsive to needs and urges, to mammals who were able to nurse young and form herds, to predators who were able to form lifelong friendships and close-knit packs and prides, to human beings who oh so accurately describe themselves as being in the image of God, and who are able to turn their attention consciously to the evolution of the normative standard from one generation to the next. Each generation is evolving in such a way as to be able to commune with God at a new level and on a new height. Consequently, each generation begins to look more and more like God, the source of unconditional love.

The Dark Side of the Evolving Norm

But the other side of this is that those individuals who are able to experience the leading edge of the ever-unfolding norm are those who are also extremely in touch and comfortable with the most basic predatorial, mammalian, and reptilian roots on which the unfolding norm depends. In this way, those who are the most capable of genuine love and understanding and acceptance, are also those most capable of brutality, derision, and aloof disregard.

A less advanced individual within the society may be capable of those things as well; but this individual fully comprehends the consequences of each; which for him are all the more consequential by virtue of the tremendous value he is able to create. Tearing down a hovel and tearing down a skyscraper come from the same psychological place; however, one is far more consequential than the other. It takes a much deeper connection to the less evolved states of the norm to be able to destroy in that latter way. But the highest creation requires the highest brutality to protect it; and when a leading edge man derides and turns his back, its effect is far more significant and destructive.

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