Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cheap Morality

These past few months,  I've thought a lot about social justice and caring for others.  I often see news articles about people who are outraged over various moral issues and I have noticed that many times these are what I call "bedroom sins."  As I consider the needs of the world, I see that people who spend most of their energy monitoring the behavior of others are practicing a cheap morality.  That is, they are most vocal about changing things that do not affect their lives at all.  They don't have to change their behavior nor does it hurt their pocket book.  These people pretend to fight for long as it doesn't affect them.

Meanwhile, children here and abroad languish in foster care and orphanages; homelessness is a growing issue; we have the largest prison population in the world; the working poor cannot afford decent health care; our country is at war a nation that did not attack us; we have innocent people on death row; we are poisoning our planet and our bodies with dangerous chemicals, all in the name of progress; and citizens of the world are dying due to lack of clean drinking water.  While just a year ago, people in Texas clamored to keep homosexual behavior a criminal offense and a small church in Florida burned the Koran.  Do these people really care about others?  Or are they merely disguising their hatred under the banner of morality and religion?

It's easy to tell other people their thinking or their behavior is wrong.  Because it doesn't require any action on our part.  Righting the wrong requires that the other person do something.  However, it's hard to tell people that society is wrong.  Because that requires us to act, for if we point out the wrongs of society and do nothing, we look heartless.  Fighting to right those kinds of moral wrongs will take energy and money and time - things we would rather not give up.

It's easy care about what happens IN people:  in their personal lives, in their bedrooms, in their heads.  It's hard to care about what happens TO people: when they live on the street, when they are incarcerated, when they are ill, when they live in war-torn nations.  That's because once you care about these people, you have do do something about their circumstances. 

Telling others what to do in their personal lives does not engage you in any activity nor is there any risk.  You do not have to change your behavior or your lifestyle.  This is not really caring about others.  This is about being nosy.  


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

As always, well put.

At the last meeting for worship I attended, the second hour was a discussion on adult faith. We talked a lot about God of fear + judgment and God of love + understanding.

Cherie said...

Thanks, Shona. I love how Quaker meetings are so interactive. I always go home with a lot to think about after a meeting.

Deanna said...

Well said! It's far easier to concern ourselves with the *sins* of others than it is to actually do something to alleviate suffering.