Friday, September 05, 2008

Moral Hindsight is 20/20

In a must-read post, Jockeystreet contemplates people who stood on the sidelines during the Civil Rights Era, and ponders whether we are ever as good as we think that we could have been in past generations. Will we each rise to the occasion of our own challenges?

The answer might end up being, after deliberation, calls to insurance reps, discussion on high, "hey, yeah, of course we'll do this."

That's what I hope the answer will be. Because, clearly, that's what the answer should be. But also because, if that's the answer, I'm done, there's nothing for me to do.

If that's not the answer... then what?

What? Then what? What are the options? What, morally, ethically, am I obliged to do? To say? To express? Certainly, absolutely certainly, I will not be able to say to this staff person, this "decorated," long-term, trusted, in-line-for-promotion employee, "hey, sorry, they said no and I guess that's that."

Any more than, 45 years ago, I could have (ethically, morally) said to a staff person "hey, sorry, I really wish you could get vacation time, but you know how it is, vacation is a whites-only benefit, cost the agency a bundle to give it to you, too, I'm sure you understand."

I don't want to make a sacrifice. Even for the right thing. I'm selfish that way.

But, in the end, the thing I most don't want to sacrifice is my sense of self, the image I have of the person I could have been, 45 years ago, had I been there when things were so "clear," when I would have known what side of the line to stand on.

As always, read the whole thing.


Jeff the Baptist said...

I agree that there are always hard but clear moral decisions to make. Sexual and racial discrimination are still visible today. We need to keep an eye out or they will most certainly be back.

I disagree with his stand that legalizing gay marriage is one of these clear moral decisions. The only reason we think it a clear decision is that we have gone so far down the Romans 1 rabbit-trail that our moral senses are warped.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, John.

John said...

I don't have a very firm position on gay marriage. I'd say let individual states decide, and then see how it works out.

Given the rapid shift in the public perception of homosexuality in the past 50 years, I'd say that gay marriage is probably a coast-to-coast political reality in our lifetimes. Will it be good or bad? Don't know. We can't be sure what our children will condemn us for.