[Related: my ongoing Twitter thread of examples of corporate amorality. ]
“It’s easy to proclaim virtues when you have nothing at stake — and status to gain. But true morality is a luxury good when your livelihood’s at stake. When your family, reputation, or assets are on the line.” – Our Amoral Compass
I’ve been as guilty as others of judging others’ actions from afar. But actions are products of our obligations — to our kids, spouses, communities, friends, colleagues, nations, fellow humans, customers and employers. Likely, close to that order, implying vastly different levels of sacrifice.
This is why I’ve argued there is no evil. Everyone believes they’re doing their best and fulfilling their obligations to at least one of those constituents.
Everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing – and they are! The only question is for whom? For themselves, their family, state, business, country, god…?? Serving any one party can leave others feeling shortchanged.
People casually accuse Trump or Planned Parenthood or FOX News or “socialists” of being “evil”. Of acting with malice. What if there is no malice? What if there is no evil? What if they’re merely doing the right thing, often with integrity, for someone who isn’t you. YOU aren’t being served.
Seeing people’s intentions through this lens can eliminate some of the harshness and vitriol we see in the world today.
What it can’t eliminate is the possibility that your noblest ideals, manifested, may well be your utopia…and someone else’s nightmare.
Problems and tensions arise when we aren’t being served. When someone’s obligations conflict with ours. It opens the door to resentment, accusations, denunciations and labels. HOW DARE THEY!?
That brings me back to China vs. Hong Kong.
It’s easy to denounce what’s happening in Hong Kong on Twitter. To be heroes behind avatars. To denounce the NBA, media giants and others for bending to totalitarianism.
But what do I have at stake? What am I willing to do about it? What are any of us?
We’re not sending money or supplies.
We’re not quitting our jobs at P&G or Apple to speak truth to power.
We’re not going there to fight.
We’re not pushing our representatives to go to war over Hong Kong.
Would we even risk not getting iPhones to support an embargo? Doubtful.
Unfortunately, the people of Hong Kong exist at the outer limits of our priorities and obligations.
So… We empathize. We romanticize their struggle. From a distance.
The craziest part is how normal this is in our everyday lives. We tolerate abusive bosses, suppress our opinions, and ignore unfairness to keep our jobs. To keep our obligations.
It comes down to a simple reality: Life is servitude to our obligations. All contentment depends on it.
Obligations we choose bring satisfaction and joy. Ones imposed or mandated by circumstances feel oppressive.
Either way, a touch of mercy is in order, before pointing fingers at a fellow servant.
Maybe Hong Kong vs. China isn’t a window to our morality. It’s a mirror .
Thankfully, the US still has one undeniable moral authority: South Park .
Thankfully, the US still has South Park to be its moral compass & show us how to handle China.https://t.co/6I1oq5E0kM
— Steve Faktor (@ideafaktory) October 8, 2019