Dealing With Vertical Morality

The problem with religious morality.

How you treat others depends on which direction you see the world. Vertical morality is when you see morality as a hierarchy—that some authority figure above you has a set of rules and punishments you are supposed to live by. The problem is; if you are able to imagine someone as above you, it’s easier to imagine certain others as below you—those that don’t believe in your rules. Your focus will then tend to be on self preservation and measuring your own piety against your perception of others.

In a horizontal framework you judge your actions based on how they affect others—that your actions are motivated by the positive and negative affects of those around you, who in fact are all your equals.

And this is where we are. The vertical framework is an obnoxious bully system. Loving your neighbor as yourself doesn’t fair very well when yourself is an insufficient, guilt laden sinner who can do nothing of herself.

Love is never fruitful by way of commandment or dogma, but the realization that we are all equals—not in the sight of a god but in the sight of each other. That would be a chapter I’d like to see.