Sunday 17 December 2017

Ireland's Thirtysomethings: With questions of our morality, the devil is in the detail

On morality, there appears to be a grey area between what we say and what we do, says Eilis O'Hanlon

Eilis O'Hanlon

'Between the idea and the reality ... falls the shadow." So wrote TS Eliot in 1925. When it comes to personal morality, the gap between what is said and done is often equally murky. Disapproving of a thing is not the same as not doing it. It's still fascinating to see what Ireland's thirtysomethings consider to be beyond the moral pale and what they shrug off as unimportant.

At opposite ends of that spectrum lie two very different worlds. One is pre-marital sex, which has clearly lost its stigma for thirtysomethings. On a sliding scale of disapproval, where 1 means "not to disapprove at all" and 10 means to "disapprove completely", having sex before marriage attracts a disapproval rating of only 2.58, illustrating how quickly moral values can shift once a society starts to change. It was not so long ago that Catholic Ireland would have taken a much dimmer view.

On the other end of the scale, there is drink driving, which attracts a disapproval rating of 9.10, meaning there is almost universal disapproval of the practice amongst Irish thirtysomethings. Though one does have to ask: has the shadow fallen once more between the idea and the reality?

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