Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Right & Wrong versus Consequences

What makes something right or wrong?

Is it solely dependant upon whether or not there is a favorable outcome or negative consequence? Is it your ability to get away with it? Is it what is socially acceptable?

While there are definitely things in life where right and wrong are purely situational - like where you live, work, and send your kids to school are based on what's right for you and your family - I would argue that there are some things in life that are right or wrong simply based on the fact that they are right or wrong. Consequences, outcomes, feelings, and societal acceptance are non-factors; they are simply not relevant.

Let's start with an example that we can all agree with. Murder. Not only is murder unacceptable in our western society, it's unacceptable and criminal worldwide. No matter how much we might hate someone, no matter how bad they "wronged" us, it is not okay to kill.

But what if someone is a child rapist? Is it okay to kill them outside the law (we won't even go into capital punishment at this point)? Like, is it okay for you to decide that the child rapist should die and kill them? I mean, let's face it. The world would be a better place with less rapists. Most people would say "no" it's not okay for you to kill the person, even though they did something horrible.

Now, what if they child rapist raped YOUR child? Now is it okay to kill them? Of course you would want to kill them! And most people would not condemn you for it. Hell, they raped your child. And no one would argue that the rapist deserves to die. But is it OKAY, right, appropriate, and permissible for YOU to kill the rapist? What if you could get away with it? You have the perfect plan and no one would ever, ever, ever know you did it. What about now? Can you kill the person now?

No. It is not okay for you kill that person. And it's not because they aren't a horrible person. They are. And it's not because they didn't hurt someone you love. They did. And it's not because they don't deserve to die. They do. It's wrong because MURDER IS WRONG. End of story.

Many things in life are either right or wrong, despite possible consequences, ability to get away with it, extenuating circumstances, exceptions, or societal acceptance.

What about stealing? More people have stolen something than killed a person. I would argue that everyone has stolen something in their life. Maybe not a stereo from a house you broke into, a sports bra from Target, or even a soda pop when you asked for a water cup at McDonald's. Most people have stolen time. Have you ever chatted with your co-worker for 10 minutes instead of working? Have you ever called in sick because you wanted a day off? Have you ever realized you got incorrect change after you got to your car and not go back in to give the $0.30 back? No matter how small the offense, most of us, if not all, have knowingly taken something that is not ours.

And stealing is unacceptable and considered wrong worldwide. But what about the dad who needs to steal food to feed his kids? Yes, this is super sad. Yes, most parents would do this if it meant their child had dinner. But does that make it right? No, it doesn't. This is a sad, extenuating circumstance that we all hope to never be in. But should we legalize stealing, legalize taking something that isn't yours just because there might be a family out there who can't eat unless they steal?

It would do our society a huge injustice to make it okay to take something that isn't yours just so this family doesn't miss a meal. Obviously this is a sad situation and I hope that in cases like this the families are able to get help, food, something from their community, food shelf, etc. But unfortunately, this is reality. But it doesn't make stealing okay.

Here is another example that we may not all agree on (which, actually, furthers my point). Most states have the death penalty. So we'll assume that most Americans are okay with the death penalty as a punishment for extremely bad people (murderers, terrorists, rapists). I, personally, do not think the death penalty is okay. I think it's a "legal" form of murder. I think it's applied unjustly, arbitrarily, and frankly, doesn't serve justice. It's legalized revenge. It's the government playing God. That is what I think.

For this example, let's assume that I am right (and since I am a Clark, there is a good chance I am right). Let's assume that the death penalty, is in fact, wrong. Well, most Americans think it's okay. I mean, they voted for it at some point and haven't overturned the legalization of it in most states. Assuming I am right (had to remind you of that), then my opinion is the minority, which means that most of society has agreed that something that is wrong (the death penalty) is right. Well, is the death penalty indeed "right" just because most people think it's okay? No. Majority opinion does not mean that something is right. Most people voted for Obama (had to say that lol)... but on the flip side, most people voted for Bush...

Now for a more controversial issue. Here is where I will likely lose all the credibility I just established with those who don't agree with the next issue. Abortion.

Abortion is wrong. Once the sperm burrows his way into the egg a life begins. The egg would never have begun to grow without the sperm. And the sperm would never have grown without the egg, despite the fact that he was the fastest swimmer out of millions of sperm. Without each other, human life can't happen.

Left alone, the fastest swimmer and lucky egg will grow into a baby. A child. A human life. This is the only way human life happens. It is not a mistake that it takes 9 months for a child to grow in it's mother's womb. It is not a mistake that the heart doesn't start beating until about 25 days after conception.

Yes. Sometimes things go wrong and the baby dies before it has a chance to breathe in it's first breathe. Sometimes things go wrong before it even develops a heart beat. Sometimes things go wrong before mommy even knows that daddy's fastest swimmer hooked up with her recent drop out.

Just because a baby dies before it's born doesn't mean it's okay to choose to take it's life. Just because the baby's daddy raped the baby's mommy doesn't mean that the baby doesn't have a right to live. And it's a baby. Following it's natural course, uninterrupted, it will be a newborn in 9 months. If that baby is destroyed, it is gone forever. Forever. It will never have a chance at life. Love. Happiness. Pain. Family. Friendship.

A baby's worth is NOT dependant on whether or not it's mother wants it. Why is it a miscarriage if the baby dies because of natural causes at 12 weeks along but "abortion" if the mom decides she doesn't want it when the baby is 12 weeks along? When the baby is wanted, the mom refers to it as her "baby" when she is pregnant. If I choose to remove my baby from my womb because I don't want it, it's called abortion and it's legal. If I am pregnant and someone kills me and unborn child, it's a double homicide. In both scenarios, the same, damn thing happened. My baby died. It's a double standard. And either both situations are okay OR both are wrong. A life was destroyed and the rightness or wrongness, the baby's status should not be dependant on it's desirableness (is that word?).

I get that sometimes a mother must choose her own life or her baby's. If she doesn't abort, she will die and so will the baby. This is a HORRIBLE situation. Unfathomable. And no mother should ever have to make this decision. But should we allow the destruction of a growing life just because of the rare exception?

Should we allow stealing because there might be a dad out there who can't afford to buy food for his family tonight? Should we allow people to kill anyone they want because some people might choose to kill rapists? In both the aforementioned scenarios, it would be ridiculous to legalize something "wrong" just because of a rare exception. Abortion is no different. It's not about a choice; sure, the baby is growing in the female body, and the baby is dependant on her body, too. But it is NOT her body. It is NOT her soul. Your 3 month old, 3 year old, 13 year old is dependant on you, too. They count on you to feed them, clothe them, provide them shelter. Should you be able to kill them just because you don't want them? Or because it's inconvenient for you to support them? Obviously not.

Here is where I think my credibility might be lost with those who are "pro-choice" - this post was really not about abortion. There are so many things in my life right now where people are making decisions, justifying things, and trying to drive points home because an outcome turned out okay, because they got away with it, and because other people are doing it.

Outcomes, consequences, and majority opinion or affirmation does not make something right or wrong.

There are some things in life that are right or wrong aside from consequences, societal approval, ability to get away with something, or favorable outcomes.

If we don't have the ability to know right from wrong and we don't make decisions based on the rightness or wrongness of something, despite the consequences, then we don't have integrity.