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What are examples of morally acceptable and morally unacceptable ways to express emotions?  

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S.L. Watson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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First of all, it is important to define the meaning of morality. That definition can vary depending on a person's understanding of morals. Morals can be determined by what a culture considers wrong or right behavior, a set of principles. As well, morals can be connected to religious views. In that light, religious beliefs can dictate what is morally wrong or right. Morality can also be connected to tradition; that is, a set of ethics that makes a good person. With that being said, expressing emotions that are either morally acceptable or unacceptable can be linked to one's cultural, religious, and/or individual beliefs.

For example, in our culture, we generally believe that marriage to one person is a morally acceptable way to express the emotion of love. However, polygamy, marriage to more than one partner, is acceptable in many countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. We consider murder a morally unacceptable way to express anger. On the other hand, we consider talking to a counselor or therapist concerning issues of anger morally acceptable. Most Christian religions and cultures view suicide as a morally unacceptable way to solve emotional issues such as hopelessness or despair. However, assisted suicide, euthanasia, is legal in some European countries and a few American states, generally if a person is terminally ill. Therefore, to consider just what comprises morally acceptable or unacceptable emotions must be carefully weighed with a person's cultural and religious beliefs.

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There are as many examples of ways to express emotions as there are people feeling those emotions. Determining a morally acceptable or unacceptable way in which to express a given emotion is another variable to be considered, with the distinction between acceptable and unacceptable depending upon one's personal definition of what is or is not "moral" behavior.

Expressing one's love for another person by presenting a token of affection, such as a ring or other sign of commitment, is morally accepted in most cultures. Expressing love by painting a graffiti-style declaration on the pier of a public bridge is illegal and therefore morally unacceptable.

Demonstrating anger with another person could be done by confronting the person with a list of concerns or complaints that need to be addressed (morally acceptable) or by physically assaulting the person (morally unacceptable).

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