Moral Living
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Life can be very difficult to navigate. If we aren’t paying attention, it is easy to lose track of where we are, or to follow misleading paths that take us far away from our desired destination.  It is important that we have a way to orient ourselves regularly and make sure our progress is aligned with our goals.  While a life-map is necessary in order to get a bird’s-eye view of the overall picture and to plan the route you wish to follow, a moral compass is what helps you keep every footstep going in the right direction.  Moral living is the process by which we align daily choices with our foundational values.

Moral living is where the rubber meets the road for spirituality.  It is where faith and values are transformed into action and lifestyle.  Using the map analogy from above, it is the compass that guides each step we take.  Marines learn how to use a map and a compass together by identifying the heading on the map, shooting an azimuth in the same direction with the compass, then advancing in line with that azimuth, paying careful attention to direction and pace.  It is a very deliberate, exact process. Likewise, Marines need a moral compass.  They need to develop the habit of aligning life choices with their foundational values and meanings.  When this type of spiritual attention guides every footstep you take in life, you are far more likely to end up where you want to go.

Moral living comes when you align your choices and behavior with your meaning and values.  Keeping your life on target requires effort and thoughtfulness as decisions are made.  Every Marine is held accountable for the decisions they make both on and off duty. Some standards are expected by the military and by the nation.  The uniform code of military justice and civic laws are the minimum standard by which a Marine's actions will be evaluated.  In addition, the Marine Corps and individual units may have other behavioral standards which are expected to be followed.  But beyond that, it is up to each one to choose how they will go about making decisions on a daily basis. They will need to ask themselves "What does right look like?" Every Marine can make a personal choice regarding what code or standard they are using to make both moral and ethical decisions each and every day.

The moral compass each Marine chooses to use is a personal decision. However, often individuals are unaware of some of the factors that influence their decisions. Not all influences are beneficial to your well-being.  It is wise for every person to evaluate the factors that influence their perspective of what is right and wrong and how decisions are made.  We are often heavily influenced by the environment we grew up in and by those people we surround ourselves by.  It is important that you identify the moral influences in your life and determine whether you have negative moral influences that are interfering with your moral compass which need to be discarded.

A strong moral compass is calibrated through regular contemplation of the personal faith and foundational values which power it.  The moral path is followed by consciously living according to a personal code of conduct which may include behaviors and attitudes that should be avoided, as well as regular spiritual rituals or efforts which are designed to keep one’s life connected to the greater meaning. 

  Below is a list of some of the common sources of personal moral compass:

Family and Friends- The strongest influence (for bad or good) on your moral compass generally comes from those closest to you.  Think of loved ones whom you really respect and admire and  ask yourself what they would think about the decisions you are making in your life.  Are you honoring your family name with your life?  Relying on family and/or good friends to help you make difficult moral decisions and to keep you on track in life can be a great blessing.

Personal Hero or Example-  Perhaps you have somebody in your life that you would like to be like.  Using the life of another as an example to guide your decisions can be an incredibly powerful moral compass. 

Mentors and Leaders-  There are many others who have gone through similar circumstances to you in life that are willing to help.  Relying on others who are well-respected can be a great way to get make good decisions and live the kind of life that you want.

Religious Beliefs- For many, religious beliefs strongly influence their understanding of what is right and wrong.  Most religious groups offer some sort of moral code of living, such as the Ten Commandments or the Eight Fold Path.  These religious codes of conduct can have a powerful influence on daily decisions.

Cultural Influences-  In addition to the above influences, each culture may have other expectations for acceptable behavior.

There are many more sources of moral values that can lead to moral living. The important thing is that you identify what is important to you, and then seek to live your life according to your moral compass.




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