Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What if?

If you knew for a fact that an action of yours would have a direct, immediate and profoundly negative effect on your next door neighbor, a beloved friend or family member, would you do everything you could to change your behavior?
What if it were someone who lived down the street but for whom you had no strong feelings?
What if the connection between your action and the harm was less immediate, less direct but still connected?
What if the action harmed, not a neighbor but someone you would never meet, a person in another place, another town or another country?
What if it wouldn't hurt someone alive now but would harm people in the future, possibly your children or your children's children?
What if there was no way to measure the impact of your actions to gauge the harm?
What if everybody did it and you were just one of many?


Anonymous said...

Why not just add "What is the meaning of the universe?" and "How do you get the bicycle tube back in the box after you realize it's the wrong size?" - you've asked a lifetime of ethics and moral dilemma questions. You are sort of funny.

Friendly Mama said...

Well yeah, perhaps I am.
Maybe these questions are too large or unhoned or even naive. I don't necessarily have to live with the consequences of all of my actions but I do have to live with myself. If I know that (for instance) when I drive a car and keep my air conditioner running all day in my house I contribute to C02 in the atmosphere which causes climate change which is causing drought in some parts of the world leading to famine and war and flooding in other parts of the world, I know that I am morally responsible for that, even if I, alone, didn't cause the problem. If I buy a product from a company that exploits workers and the environment, I can try to convince myself that I didn't harm anyone and all I'm doing is filling a need for myself with a product that is in existance already. But I know the that in buying it, I am culpable because I am supporting corruption. Cause and effect. My actions impact others. I am trying to become aware. Obviously, there will always be unintended/unknowable outcomes but I'm trying to make my intentions clear to myself.

And who are you to call me funny? (who are you, by the way?) Whoever you are, thanks for your comment!