The Fog of right and wrong

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I look down at my email again, and another email from change.org appears.

Another one, I sigh while reading, another email pleading for my help with this crusade, that issue, this cause, this unfair, this un-nice thing that has happened to someone.  Another one.

Thinking back a couple of years I take stock quickly and don’t recall ever seeing so many different causes or interests or committees or claims or stories about abuse, neglect, injustice or outright blatant mistreatment of another human being or group of human beings.

Was I just not paying close attention? I wonder.

Did I just not hear those stories? I wonder.

And then it hits me.

No, I was the same then as I am now: highly sensitive with a strong penchant to read  between the lines. A strong penchant to a fault.  No, it wasn’t that I wasn’t paying close enough attention or wasn’t smart enough to grasp the details of these sorts of stories.  It wasn’t that at all.

It was that the world was nicer.

Doing the right thing was clear.

Doing the wrong thing was punished, and usually you ended up in some version of time-out; detention, suspension, prison.  It felt pretty clear back then–you bullied, you got punished.  You were rude to co-workers, you got a mark on your review.  You cut someone off, you got honked at or maybe got a choice finger waved in your direction.  You knew exactly where you stood when you got it wrong or messed up.  It was a very clear, thick, heavy boundary line between right and wrong, between what was decent and mannerly, and what was not.

And now instead of being so clear on right and wrong, it’s all up for interpretation.

Now we have more cases of people are beating each other up, others abusing themselves, and what seems like the majority of the population in some way being  mistreated by others.  We eat far too much or end up starving ourselves for no reason but to fit a piece of cloth.  We spend too much time doing nothing or we kill ourselves trying to be productive at all times.  We have so many things that are wrong, so clearly not right, but no one wants to take the hit for it, to take the blame or make the change or fess up to making a mistake.  And almost no one wants to finger-point or blame themselves when they act up.

This is not to say that there is no mercy or grace.  There is loads of it, and I imagine I’ve already used up a lifetime’s supply worth.  But sometimes we need grace and mercy, and sometimes we need clear honesty.  And we need honesty, about ourselves, our lives and our choices pretty badly these days.

And because of all this, we have sites like Change.org.  In and of itself, Change.org is not a bad site. Its aim is to help the often silent, unnoticed, trampled and broken people of the world.  It’s intetion is all-around good, and we need more sites like this to help remind us of the sometimes small (and sometimes very large) injustices of the world.

Its sole intention is to help. And to do good.

But sometime and it can’t come soon enough, we are going to need to sit down with ourselves and our society and take off our rosy, ego-driven glasses and ask ourselves: are our intentions the same?

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