Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Doing the Right Thing

Author: Gary Hart

Though the blogosphere is a wonder, care must be taken by those who venture into it on at least two counts: over-opinionation that becomes strident and dogmatic; and the temptation toward moral superiority. Both seem rampant in today’s public world.

Now, having issued these caveats and cautions, as much to this blogger as anyone, let me suggest a growing impression. Even as we Americans battle against each other in ever harsher terms, there is a dimension to public matters that seems missing. That is the ethical, and even moral, dimension to the serious problems we now face. Previous entries here have stressed, for example, the moral dimension of climate alteration to the degree it degrades our public heritage to future generations, the “posterity” for whom our Republic was formed by our Constitution.

In addition to climate other similar challenges arise. These include: concern for mounting public deficits and debts; unnecessary energy consumption; still massive nuclear arsenals; and endemic poverty, to name the most obvious. For some of us these are ethical (possibly even moral) and not just political, concerns. They are matters of right and justice, not just liberal and conservative, differences. Do we have the right, the ethical right, to leave huge debts to our children? Do we have the right to burn fossil fuels unnecessarily? Is it just to leave massive nuclear stockpiles for future generations to worry about? Does a just society let one in five children live in poverty?

Again, it is important to reiterate that, by raising the bar on these questions from political to ethical, is not to suggest ethical or moral superiority on anyone’s part. For some of us these are life and death (existential) questions. They are not about political, economic, partisan, or ideological differences.

Some questions–slavery, equal rights for all, help for the needy–rose above politics and economic theory. It does not seem inappropriate to suggest that we approach 21st century foundational questions with the same ethical and moral concerns that led us to do the right and just thing regarding similar issues during the best of our past.

This might even guide us away from the present bitterness and meanness that afflict our society.