Life and Morality – “Buy the ticket, take the ride”

A famous quote by Hunter S. Thompson, “Buy the ticket, take the ride”. I’m sure many of you know of him as he’s likely one of the most famed writers in American literature and journalism to date.

LIfe as we know it is such a structured, disciplined system created by the institutions around us and ideals that we are raised with. The government leads us to believe that they are in control, most religions do the same. From the beginning of grade school all throughout high school we’re being groomed to become a part of the machine. Our ideals, habits, and perceptions of the world formed by our family lives, our friends, the environment in which we grow up.

In this way of looking at things, our ticket has already been bought and we’re forced to take the ride deemed by the establishment. When we’re young and growing up we don’t have much of a choice in the matter. It’s not until college, if you go to college, that you begin to see a more open perspective of the world; But don’t be fooled, you’re still being carved into a cog to fit the machine. And then post college, it’s time to find your niche in the great institution

The machine, as I refer to it is the societal structure built around us. It dictates our jobs, our mannerism’s, what is normal and what is abnormal; our lives, dictated by the imaginary institution around us.

That was quite the preface to my actual point in writing this post, I apologize if you weren’t quite sure where I was going with all this.

My point is that all throughout life we are taught to walk the straight and narrow, be an orderly subject of society and follow the rules. However, life isn’t quite as black and white as most may believe. In my opinion, in reference to the black and white scale, life is composed of a giant block of gray and two slim polar opposites being the black and white.

Let’s talk about the law of the land, in this case being the USA because, well, that’s where I live. I’m going to pose you with a hypothetical situation.

Consider that you have a loved one that you felt you couldn’t live without, this could be a romantic partner, relative, or friend, and they are dying from an illness; But there is a cure, in the former of a tiny little pill that costs an extreme amount of money. Let’s say one million dollars per pill; something that most of us don’t have lying around. Neither you nor your loved one have the money to afford the only thing that can save their life.

Now lets add a twist to the scenario. This pill is manufactured at a rather cheap price, let’s say five dollars per pill. The company fueled by greed only made the price as high as it is to fill their coffers; Because in reality, they don’t care about you or me. They care about our money. Now, lets say you actually work for this company and you have a very good career; They pay you a lot of money for what you do there. In this position you have the opportunity to steal a pill in order to save your loved ones life but risk suffering the consequences of losing your job, legal repercussions, and your future and stability. The process of manufacturing this pill is very closely monitored and after production every single one is accounted for. What do you do?

It is a moral, legal, and personal conundrum; But you have to make a choice.

My purpose for creating this scenario is to get you to thinking about morality and the role it plays in our lives. Men in suits sit in chairs and dictate what rules we have to follow, or else we can potentially face the consequences of our transgressions. There is a deeper level to living and our consciousness than what laws can dictate. At some point in our lives we hopefully progress to post conventional morality; as defined by Kolhberg’s Stages of Moral Development:

“Throughout the postconventional level, a person’s sense of morality is defined in terms of more abstract principles and values. People now believe that some laws are unjust and should be changed or eliminated. This level is marked by a growing realization that individuals are separate entities from society and that individuals may disobey rules inconsistent with their own principles. Post-conventional moralists live by their own ethical principles—principles that typically include such basic human rights as life, liberty, and justice—and view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms, rather than absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question.”

At some point we must realize that we don’t have to be that cog in the machine. We can choose to believe what is right and what is wrong. This is why life in my opinion is mostly lived out in the gray area.

Our societal orientation is necessary but not absolute. We are not a part of the institution; we created the institution. I feel that we must apply this level of cognizance to our every day lives, or nothing will ever change in regards to all the unjust rulings of the law. It is a stepping stone not only to repairing our country, but for changing the world for the better.

This is why I prefaced this post with the quote “buy the ticket, take the ride”. It can be viewed from two different perspectives. Do you decide what is morally right and wrong in this world and utilize it in your daily life? Or do you follow the law of the land as if it is concrete? Either way you have to take the ride.

Just something to think about.

My love and best wishes to you all, always.

A Half Broken Mind

Here is the source for the quote that I included in this post if you’d like to learn more about the proposed moral stages of development:

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development


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