I tend to stay away from posting about moral character for a number of reasons.
a) It is a subjective topic that polarizes people and as much as I enjoy a good debate I am easily bored by discussions that disintegrate into finger pointing.
b) I prefer to try and avoid the self-righteous and indignant stand that these posts turn into.
Someone once told me that the reason I am not into discussing it is because I do not have a strong moral compass and that if I did it would be easy. So I promptly poked him in the eye and kicked him in the mouth and asked him two questions.
1) Did he consider my response to be moral.
2) Would he be a good Christian and turn the other cheek.
Ok, I didn’t strike him physically, I didn’t even bat an eye. This upset him because he took my lack of response to be confirmation of his assessment. I told him that my disinterest was not because I have no morals, but because the world is not a place in which we can categorize things into neat little black and white boxes.
There are very few things that are clearly marked as right or wrong and the rest is a case-by-case basis. His rebuttal asserted that this is a way of avoiding responsibility. I said that it was not and that my refusal to agree with him was not based upon a lack of desire or inability to make decisions but my own belief that most situations have variables to consider.
For example I cannot think of a situation in which child abuse is ever acceptable, but I can guarantee that there is a vast disagreement on what constitutes abuse. Some people think that spanking children is abuse and others maintain that not spanking is abusive.
Most people would say that murder is always wrong. In a post last month I asked if you could go back in time and prevent a mass murderer such as Hitler from coming to power by murdering them would you do it. I suspect that if you murdered someone like that many people would say that this is one of the few cases in which murder is ok. Although we usually call such things assasination.
What concerns me about this topic in general is that within the US there is a push to try and return to old values which is in concept a nice thought. The idea that there has been a breakdown of morals and values that we can fix is an idea that is easy to get behind. But what is not easy to get behind is the manner and method in which some people wish to do this.
The push to restore values concerns me because I am not sure that I like the values of the people pushing this. I hear them talk about Judeo-Christian values and I get images of prayer in school, heavy handed censorship of our airwaves and a move to overturn Roe V. Wade.
I don’t like any of those things and it is not because I have shaky moral character, but because I am not interested in the government providing a moral structure for myself or my children. It is my job as a parent to give my children that kind of guidance. It is my job as a parent to teach them about life in general and to prepare them for the world.
The political pandering and hypocrisy of some of our politicians is not surprising, but it is not a good thing either. It doesn’t make me happy.
And as aforementioned I am not a fan of teaching people to view the world through a black and white filter. You can teach shades of gray and you can still allow for making educated and informed decisions as opposed to knee jerk, gut reaction kind of stuff.