The Ethics of Moral Issues.....Or Not
|Predators. More accurately, lack of predators. It has been theorized the reduced presence of creatures who consider humans a good source of nourishment is the key factor in our possession of excess free time. Excess time utilized to ponder all sorts of issues. Proponents of the examined life consider this a positive development. Others, while probably not in favor of returning earthly control to saber-tooth tigers and such, may suggest we have too much time on our hands. Time wasted on trivial endeavors. In supporting this argument they frequently point to the well worn example of an ever growing obsession with celebrities and their antics.
Regardless of position, pro or con, it is hard to disagree with the observation that our 21st century standard of living is relatively comfortable, safe, and, in the life-or-death sense, struggle-free. Which, regardless of whether one chooses to utilize it to think, or to monitor famous people's mating rituals, leaves excess mental energy. Historically, members of the "thinking" population utilized their cranial capacity to debate ethical situations. Today most of us, willing or otherwise, enter the moral arena at some level. Although there's probably more fun and profit in writing about celebrities, or for that matter saber-tooth tigers, it is the topic of ethics I'd like to explore in this column.
It is my humble observation that ethics, now more so than in times past, enters into almost every debate of every topic. While abortion, the death penalty, cloning, and other classics are still popular fuel for ethical arguments, we have further expanded our debated horizons. It is difficult to find a discussion of any major topic which does not include the morality of the issue.
Does this phenomenon indicate humanity's recognition that nearly everything we do has some impact? Is the massive amount of virtually unavoidable information flowing from countless sources forcing us to recognize the consequences of our choices? Have the Industrial Revolution, the Space Age, and the computer driven Information Age fed our perception that we really are in control of everything? Do I, because of my contribution to global warming, share in the guilt of a polar bear's drowning? (For what it's worth, I'm told polar bears consider humans a source of nourishment.)
On the other side of the coin, are we giving ourselves too much credit? Are we assigning ourselves, as a species, too high a position? Simply put, are we taking ourselves too seriously? Is one's choice of vehicle a moral issue? Am I a more or less ethical person based upon my fuel mileage? Do my choices in television programs, inexpensive clothing sources, stores I shop in, amusement parks I patronize, web sites I visit, magazines I buy, music I listen to....all have moral implications? Is the type of tuna I buy a matter of ethics?
Maybe there always existed this level of assigning ethical relevance to issues. There is the chance I was previously just unenlightened to this constant moral struggle. It is possible, even likely, the spectacles through which I view the past have a crimson tint in the lenses. I often think how simple it would be if I could bumble through life unburdened by the internal moral dilemmas I now find presented by the most mundane situations.
I guess I should pay more attention to celebrities. I hope they've buried that poor girl.