I am constantly walking a tightrope. Being atheist and ASPD, I do not believe in restraint for a delayed reward that I may never see. Good behavior in this life will not grant me a trip to Valhalla nor heaven. However, “good” behavior will keep me out of jail.
Reward-seeking behavior simply makes sense. Whether it is defrauding for personal gain or showing restraint to maintain the status quo, my actions are often driven by a need for immediate gain. Antisocial behavior does not always require reward, though, and often my actions are simply the flailing of a proverbial toddler. Like a toddler, I am constantly torn between mischief for the sake of it and avoiding “time out”. That said, I want all that I can have in this life, no matter the impact on others, but I realize that there are man-made powers that can – for any reasons they like – punish me and keep me from the rewards that I seek.
Lacking a belief in God and an indifference toward the moral systems put in place by society, it is easy to get wrapped up in my own self-centered desire. Every day that I am not furthering some goal, no matter the effect on others, is a day that I cannot have back. The problem becomes choosing which goals are attainable without losing it all: be it freedom, employment, or status in society.
Others may wish to abandon their own hopes and dreams simply because they believe it is what their deity wants. They believe that restraint in this life will bring eternal happiness and salvation. They limit themselves due to fear of the unknown – not just a fear of the unknown, but a foolish fear of eternal damnation. Instead of plowing forward and getting the most out of their guaranteed existence, they look forward to a state that, most likely, will never come. If fear is what is to drive their morality, they would be wiser to look around them – in this life – for the punishments for bad behavior.
I do not need the fear of any descent into hell to guide me. The hell I fear is the granite floor and concrete walls of man’s self-made prisons. The reality is that there is a price to pay for any action, not just the cumulative toxins ingested with a life of sin. I want all that I can have in this life – rather than the next – but I know that ultimately I am damned to a life of relative restraint. Charon does not wait for us after death, but rather in the courtrooms and on the streets.