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January 06, 2004

Reaping What We've Sown

A plea for civility from the People's Republic Of Seabrook.

For some time now, I've been concerned with the execrable quality of political discourse in this country. Quite frankly, the quality of debate sucks, and we Liberals are doing NOTHING to help our cause in this respect (not that Conservatives are doing much to help...). Michele beat me to this one, but we seem to be on the same wavelength here. Politically, we are seldom on the same page, but we seem to agree that this madness has gone far enough.

Me, I blame sports stars.

No, not really. They just happen to be the most obvious example of the decay in America's civic morality. The virulent morality of "I am not a role model" has infected every part of the American body politic. It merely finds its most potent expression in the spoiled Neros of the sports world.

So sorry, Mr. ( and Ms.) Athelete, you are a role model. You, the bus driver, the pizza cook, me, and every other soul drawing breath on the planet. We're all role models. It's part of the human condition, and thus inescapable. People constantly look to others as examples of how to navigate through life, sometimes for years, sometimes for only a moment. "How to live" is one of the most basic forms of human education, one in which we are all used as illustrations, whether we realize it or not. There is an excuse for not realizing this basic fact of life--it's called immaturity. Age is no defence against immaturity, but the more high school students skip college to go directly to the pro sports leagues, the more prevalent the notion of "I am not a role model" will be.

What an athelete means is not "I am not a role model." but rather "I shouldn't be a role model," which is of course correct. Tough tittie-milk, as the fourth graders say. Society has allowed atheletes to make a handsome living utilizing physical skills that would have led them to careers as soldiers, sailors or laborers less than a hundred years ago. Get over yourselves, thank whatever Gods you have that you're not getting shot at or digging ditches, and give something back.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is one of the first moral lessons we teach to children. In case you didn't notice, the Golden Rule is all about being a role model. Very few people ever forget the Golden Rule, but plenty are perfectly happy to abandon it.

"But the other guy did it first," many will plead. Once again, see what the fourth graders have to say. Abandoning a moral position simply because an opponent already has means only that one's moral actions are controlled by one's opponents instead of by oneself.

Perhaps the Golden Rule should be re-written, to make it more understandable to those who drop their observance of the Rule when it becomes inconvenient. We can combine it with another lesson in morality, while we're at it.

"What you do unto others will be given back to you, not sevenfold, but seventy times sevenfold."

The addition of the partial Bible verse doesn't mean that I think morality springs from religion. Far from it. As in any human endeavor, morality and immorality alike spring from the pursuit of religion. What religion produces in an individual depends on the person, not the faith.

Yes, I realize that statement is anathema to almost every organized religion. I don't believe in organized religion--I'm a Methodist.

Posted by Bigwig at January 6, 2004 12:46 PM | TrackBack
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You mean if I sow Booze and Little Darlings, I'll reap Booze and Little Darlings?

Posted by: Andy Capp at January 6, 2004 12:53 PM