By Susan C. Price
Ok, readers, this is probably it for me on the topic of ethics. I really did say all my tiny mind thinks about the topic the first time through, plus my comment in reply to loneliestliberal’s summarizing his dad’s World War II gasoline-rationing story, how his grandfather Vern refused a larger ration on the supposed grounds that his work was vital to the war effort, saying that “his needs were no more important than those of anyone else.” I replied that
I still think it’s important, and I know you do also, or you wouldn’t remember it. I think we all get greedy from time to time. I have seen folks at pricey celebrity events, scrambling for a freebie video (it was a few years ago, before DVDs), nay, demanding two. Effective to talk about this stuff...one can hope. Whose needs are more important?And then there were my brother Jon’s comments. Jon is simply more erudite…and more long-winded/nuanced (take your pick) than I. I suppose that between the two of our styles, we cover the readership? Part of Jon’s comment was:
The neat division into negative ethics and positive ethics (actively doing good) break down pretty radically when the counterexamples from positive ethics are actually those of people doing wrong—the neighbors allegedly angling for an apparently undeserved parking space, or the investment bankers who got more than their fair share, presumably through insider information or disastrous mortgage loan collateralized into indecipherable debt instruments.“Actively doing good is not so simple.” Which leads neatly to my real pre-occupation these days...Now that I have given up the half-time work-from-home job I have had for some years (non-profit Fiscal Person, i.e., Bookkeeper Plus)…now what?
Actively doing good would seem to be those such as people who volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and use their free time to erect homes for those who otherwise would be unable to afford a suitable dwelling, or those who voluntarily give blood all the time without compensation to help those who may need it, or those who donate sizable portions of their wealth, such as Warren Buffett, to charities they won’t control and that won’t be named after them. Actively doing good seems to include a generosity of spirit that at least on the surface is non-egotistical, unselfish, and well-intended. But as we know or have heard, the “road to hell is paved with good intentions.” So again, ethics is not so simple.
Shall I have an occupation, or simply hang around? Am I “allowed” to do nothing, produce nothing, help no one? Is it cosmically unfair (unethical—there, I found it!) of me to suck air, Social Security, a California State Employee pension, and Medicare...and not contribute to the general welfare?
And if you can answer that one…then I have to figure out...will doing nothing of value (how the h double hockey sticks do we figure value out?)…will doing nothing of value make me lose my mind...sooner?
And, if someone in my extended family is in financial straits (a life change not of their making), is it not just unethical but downright immoral for me to not send them money (they haven't asked) and instead spend it...on a trip to NYC for my 65th birthday? Um, expensive hotels, theatre, dining, and shopping....
Or are ya’all gonna be like the Universe? When I asked the U for info re: how long I will live, or how long I will live healthily...so I could intelligently plan my finances, the U laughed...very loudly...and said, “Really? Did you think I would tell you that?” More laughter.
So we are all flying blind into however many tomorrows we will recognize...which leads me to think that somehow...you should always be as good and kind and giving as you can stand...because that could be
Copyright © 2013 by Susan C. Price