- McLibel -

the cost, the cost.....

Posted by: Stuart Horsburgh ( Australia ) on May 11, 1998 at 09:27:19:

In Reply to: Morality? posted by Overkill on May 08, 1998 at 09:38:49:

:To: 'Overkill'

Thanks for your comments - yes, I think there is such a thing as 'doing the right thing'. I'm just not sure what it is all the time.

What is the right thing? In general terms, I think it is one of two things - either doing that which God or the 'first cause', 'higher power', etc morally decrees to be right, or doing that which humankind, using the wisdom of centuries, has more or less decided is the best thing to do. Depending on your perspective, and probably also your upbringing, one of these will be true for you.

In specific terms, however, I'm rarely sure what the 'right thing' to do is. A few years ago in Australia we had an advertising campaign which tried to encourage people to put their rubbish in a garbage bin instead of in the street. The slogan, which was pasted on bins, railway stations, etc. was "Do the Right Thing.....Put Litter in a Bin".

Now, most people agreed that, yes, it generally is a good thing to put litter in a bin rather than throwing it down on the path where you stand. However, what if my litter happens to be an apple core? If I throw it in the gutter or in a garden, a bird may come and eat it, and that bird will fill its stomach again. Isn't it, therefore, also the 'right thing' to throw the core away so the bird can eat it?

But, what if the bird eats my apple core instead of looking for its own food? Perhaps it might get used to eating the apple cores in the gutter, and will lose or not practice the skill of foraging for grubs. One day, that bird or that bird's offspring may find themselves without food when a new development goes up in the neighborhood, and the paths and trees are gone, and people don't throw apple cores away there any more. Perhaps, on balance, it's not the right thing to throw even an apple core away!

We can take all this to its logical extreme, but you get the point, I'm sure. Morality from a human point of view depends so much on perspective that it's very difficult to pin down. I wonder can Sir Thomas Moore look back now and say 'yes, my sacrifice was worth it'. I wonder can anyone who has died or suffered or sacrificed much for a good cause? Martin Luther King? Christ & his apostles?

No, I wouldn't take the billion dollars if I knew that as a direct result of my action, the child would suffer or die. Of course not...how could I sleep at night if I had to stand and watch it happen and know that it was my own greed that made it happen?

However, if the billion dollars came more slowly, over time, through the execution (no pun intended) of 'normal' business practices which were accepted across the world, and if I didn't have to see the suffering and I was surrounded with people who were paid to reassure me that it wasn't happening I just might be tempted.....

Please don't get me wrong - I'm not saying I don't care. Helen and Dave are, I believe, pretty much on the ball in their criticisms of the golden arches. They are justified in what they are doing, and as I said I admire them. But the cost, the cost.....

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