Olódùmarè and Moral Values
No one knows when the question of morality as a theoretical subject began to exercise the mind of man. There is no doubt, however, that the sense of what to do and what not to do, the practical question as to why certain forms of behaviour are to be preferred to certain others, and the problem of how to live peaceably with another person and be fit to live with, have been with him from the earliest times. Whereas all these began as vague notions, it was not long before they became real factors with which he should reckon if he must live within the community and if the life of the community must be preserved. Thus, by a gradual process they evolved into the definite patterns which we have today as codes of behaviour, as known in the ways and wisdom of each individual nation.
To the question "Whence does morality derive its norm, the force of its demands and sanctions?" the answers have been various. There are those who hold that morality has its origin in society; that is, it is essentially a social phenomenon. Society must keep itself alive and its machinery smooth-running, and to this end it evolves a system of self- preservation. Thus the sense of "Ought" which resides within each person is a result of this system which society created. On this hypothesis, that which we call "conscience" in man is nothing more than the notion, "a complex of residual habits", which society implants in him as it brings him up, feeding him on the milk of approved behaviour and nourishing him on the meat of acceptable character. These notions society tends carefully and strengthens with the dispensation of reward and punishment.
Others have told us that what we call morality is little more than a product of common sense. In order to live, man must adapt himself to his environment. Experience soon taught him what could be done and what must be avoided. A steady accumulation of this experience over a long period has resulted in a very strong sense of what has come to be popularly known as "Right" and "Wrong". But, however strong and