My mother has a phrase (probably took it off a bumper sticker somewhere) be nice because it feels good to be nice. While she is extremely clichéd she has a point. It feels good to be nice. I believe part of that swelling of our hearts when we act out of compassion or kindness towards others because it’s not mandatory. It’s easier to do nothing and move on, but we do it anyways for the sake of others. An interesting example that demonstrates my point is paying people to give blood. All my teachers ever will gape when I say this, but I forgot where the study was done but what I do remember was that a study was done and less people gave blood when they were paid to do so in comparison when people volunteered to do so. I don’t hold doors for people or smile to strangers because it’s expected of me, but because it’s not expected of me. The value in kindness is derived from its voluntariness.
As much as I respect Singer’s bleeding heart and have great admiration for a man that not only preaches morals, but follows them too; I believe obligated morality would be a tragedy. Humans are self-interested and tend to overlook those in dire need for petty gain, but forcing people to change is not truly changing people. The world has many problems, but if people don’t consciously decide to make changes to the world around them on their own but rather are forced to by officials they will feel oppressed. Rightly so I might add. So called oppression is in the name of the greater good, but I feel like we’ve heard that line from dictators before? Ignoring the political debate to return to the original point; morality can’t be forced. If it becomes mandatory it is no longer morality.