Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moral Dilemmas

Last Thursday evening my husband and I went on a date night.  The plan was dinner and a movie.  Given my husband’s American background he wanted to see “Lincoln”, so off we went.

I enjoyed the movie but two uncomfortable thoughts burrowed into my brain and continue to gnaw rat-like away at it.

The first is this…

Does the battle against an evil justify blurring the lines between what’s right and what’s wrong?

Lincoln’s goal to abolish slavery in the Southern United States is the main plot line in this historical movie account.  A worthy goal, though not popular in his time in history.

We all know Lincoln achieved this goal, but the way the movie depicts the journey to get there leaves me wondering if it’s OK to blur the lines between black and white, or right and wrong, if the stakes are high enough.

In the movie Lincoln resorts to bribery, coercion, buying votes, and downright bullying to ensure the bill to end slavery is passed.

I sat with a sense of unease as I watched the story unfold.  Is it OK to use whatever means necessary to get the desired outcome?

What about the controversial torture scenes depicted in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”?  Can we conveniently turn off moral beliefs when the “greater good” is at stake?

You’re probably sitting there thinking, “They’re MOVIES you idiot…fiction…creative writing…get over it.”  Fair point.

But let’s be realistic.  We all know black and white turn to shades of grey in politics, in business, and in other venues.  And we turn a blind eye, making an excuse, “Well that’s just business.” Or, “It’s politics, what can you expect?”

Whether it’s fact or fiction it still begs the disconcerting question…is it OK to blur the lines between “right” and “wrong” or “good” and “bad” when trying to rid the world of a greater “bad”?

The second thought is this…

The thirteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution outlawing slavery was signed in 1865.  Today we’re close to being 150 years in the future.  At first glance you think, “How far we’ve come”.  Perhaps a more accurate statement is, “How far we have to go.”

Hate crimes and prejudices are still all too common, not only in our own back yards of Canada and the United States, but around the world. 

Granted, slavery no longer exists openly on the North American continent.  But we’re still slaves to our own biases that prevent us from seeing and treating people from other races and religions as equals.

At first glance it’s easy to throw out pat answers to these thoughts, freeing our minds to move on to other seemingly more important questions. 

If we do gloss over this type of thought process I think we cheat ourselves out of an opportunity to open our minds to consider different opinions and ideas.  In doing so we miss out on an opportunity for personal growth.

What do you think?  Do we need to struggle with questions like these in order to learn and grow?  Is it OK to blur the lines of black and white when it serves a higher purpose?  Do we still struggle with human equality issues around the world today?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

1 comment:

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