Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Sliding Scale of Morality

"A man can do what he ought to do; and when he says he cannot, it is because he will not."


I have lived all of my teen years with the utmost rigidity and the disabling belief that there is a lot of things in life we must not - cannot - do.

I remember back when I was in the Fourth Form, I attended the birthday party of a girl named Jaclyn. Midway through, I ditched the celebrations for a walk about the neighborhood with three other blokes though for the life of me, I cannot recollect why now. One of them took out a box of fags, and everyone took a stick - even a close friend of mine I never knew smoked. I didn't, of course, but I spent the rest of the walk keeping to myself and listening to my companions talk about cigarettes; about how they started the habit, how many sticks a day, what flavour they puffed before... intriguing stuff to me. I took it all in along with the second hand smoke while carefully watching that close friend of mine and his mannerisms - noting how awkward he appeared when he was holding his cigarette between his fingers, and the gingerly caution he exercised when he sucked it in. He was new to it, I think. I realised then just how hard it was for me to talk to them without a fag in hand. It's like an exclusive club with passwords and secret handshakes and shit, only there isn't really any passwords or secret handshakes (I don' know about shit though). You know what they always say about teen smoking and that clich├ęd crap about wanting to fit in? Scarily enough, it's true - but fortunately, I never wanted to fit in anyway.

That's my nutshell. That explains the sort of teenager I was.

I never had much parental supervision throughout my young life - because my parents were hardly ever around to keep me in line - not that I ever strayed from the straight and narrow. I never had curfews or ultimatums about what I shouldn't do-or-else because I was trusted to be my own watchman. I never smoked. I never drank (though I'm less uptight about that now). I never frequent clubs and places of purported vice. I never did drugs. I never gambled, not even during the Chinese New Year with my cousins or sister. I find it all ironic because my Mom actually sell liquor and tobacco at her coffee shop and she used my room to keep the extra stock - so it was really easy for me to appropriate those stuff since boxes of them usually sat at an arm's reach from me. Plus my Dad worked in the Genting Highlands casino. I'm not sure why I have that much of self control though. It's not like I wasn't curious about them.

I suppose I just enjoy the self satisfaction of being more well-behaved than most other people my age. It's a bit like wanking, but instead of my dong, I'm wanking my morals. And like most major religions in the history of man, that's when zealotry and extremism creeps in - when a person believe he's better and holier-than-thou-hedonistic-infidels. I began distancing myself from completely socially accepted sins. A notable example was my unwillingness to listen to exam tips and leaks back when I was in Taylor's College. I remember stuffing my fingers into my ears and walking away every time someone started discussing them because I believed (and still do) in fair play and the much dead virtue of honour. Of course, some of my friends have pointed out to me that since everyone knew the exam question leaks, it was fair play after all. My reply have always been, "Since I'm not using it, it's not very fair to me isn't it?" I'm surprised I still had friends back then.

Not wanting to cheat was still somewhat reasonable, I believe. But it wasn't long before I began a personal vendetta against practices that have no moral relevance whatsoever (though that didn't stop me from trying to rationalise it). I wouldn't dye my hair, for instance, because I thought it was a form of hypocrisy. I wouldn't touch a girl anywhere, even if it's just putting an arm around a friend for a photograph because of my strong feelings about gender boundaries. I do not think body piercings is appropriate because of its breach of social norms. Tattoos are no-nos because of their gang connotations. It's almost like I was going through life putting more and more restrictions on myself till I can no longer breathe. Something is bound to crack someday.

Then there's something I could never have imagined myself doing. I remember my ex, and the guys that used to hit on her knowing full well that she already have a boyfriend. I know all of these people actually (or at least most of them), though I have never gotten around to asking them where on earth they've gotten that conscience bypass surgery to enable them to do something of the sort. I'd never do it.

But I think I understand that now. And for all the time I've spent being appalled at just how despicable these men and their acts were, I have neglected to admire the simple but overwhelming force behind - one of conviction that you can give someone you love more happiness than she already has. It's the same thing that we've seen depicted ad nauseam with poetic passion in songs and stories over the ages. It can make men steal stars, the moon and other impossibly huge cosmic bodies from the night sky. It can bear the enamoured over oceans, deserts and all manners of inhospitable geographical regions. And most importantly, it can make a person cross lines they would not cross before.

What I'm really trying to say with this many words is,

Two wrongs can make a right.

And it would feel so damn right.

A little less black and white,
k0k s3n w4i


michellesy, possessor of a prickly conscience said...

We've talked about this, James =)

You know, that I know, that you know you know what you're doing. Confused yet LOL?

But if I trust you to have enough good sense when it comes to this, and that someone entrusts you with her heart, then I beg you to trust yourself.

It wasn't wrong to begin with, James - it just felt wrong because you're so strongly moral.

And I know this because? I have an over-active conscience too .

At the rate I am going, I might as well be Catholic - in-built sense of guilt included FOR FREE WTF. Or possibly, judging from my lifestyle, Puritan. Egads.

You know my feeings on this. All the best with it =D

gaL said...

Good post. =) I enjoy myself reading it. life as a teenager.. ahhh....

i miss that. =)

minwi said...

i so love reading your blog.

why are you on e path to becoming a dr? seems a waste to me.


Yen said...

I respect your thoughts and I salute you for that. I'm very impressed because it's rather difficult or almost impossible to see guys with a perception like yours.

I'm back.


k0k s3n w4i said...

We did.
Where in my entire post did I show the least bit of doubt :p?
Don't worry so much. You're starting to be a mother figure, LOL. Like how you are to suann.
You need to stop being so anal and have more fun yourself too. It's quite... liberating.

Actually, I miss college days more. From what you can see, my teen years wasn't terribly fun xD

Wow, that's a darn high praise! I don't think I deserve that at all. All I remember while writing this was how disatisfied I am with the way I write and I going, "Fuck it" and hitting the publish button because I can't bother to write anymore.

There's nothing special about my perception. I bet Hitler rationalised his actions pretty well too.
Oh dear, you're back and I haven't reply your mail yet! OMG, I'm just so busy these days!

Dr.Vishaal Bhat said...

Kok.. Cool down.. I see smoke emanating from your ears... :)

michellesy, driven bonkers by le familie said...


I guess I thought you were vacillating. Y'know, being a gentleman of the old school - full of impeccable manners, moral rectitude and all other manners of good things =)

And yeah, I am a mother hen to all. Tis my nature, alas. Cluck Cluck WTF.

BTW, when you say 'stop being anal and start having fun' does that mean I can tell my whole family to go jump (kit and caboodle et al) into the Brisbane River?

Because, God help me (if no one else will) that is what is going to happen if I don't get some relief from this unrelenting onslaught of familial demands upon my time, energy and psyche =S