23. Aug, 2017

CHOICES

ETHICAL CHOICES.
Recent outbreaks of Populism  on both sides of the Atlantic, did at least offer a choice of society’s basic common denominators… Nationalism+Racism+Bigotry OR
Charity+Wisdom+Respect.

DEFINITIONS…
Nationalism
1.Sentiments based on common cultural characteristics that bind a population and often produces a policy of national independence or separatism
2. Loyalty or devotion to one’s country; patriotism
3. Exaggerated, passionate or fanatical devotion to a national community.
Racism.
1. The belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with intrinsic superiority over others.
2. Abusive or aggressive behaviour towards another race on the basis of such a belief.
Bigotry.
Bigotry…a bigot being aperson who is intolerant of any ideas other than his own, esp. on religion, politics or race.

OR

Charity.
1. The giving of help, money food etc., to those in need.
2.A kindly and lenient attitude towards people.
3. Love of one’s fellow men.
Wisdom
1. The ability or result of an ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.
2. Accumulated knowledge, understanding or enlightenment.
Respect.
1. Polite or kind regard, consideration for people’s feelings
2. To show consideration for, treat courteously or kindly.
(Collins English Dictionary. Third Edition. Harper Collins. 1991)

Before making our choice- and the choice is ours to make, it is worth considering an idea put forward by the American philosopher, John Rawls (1921-2002) and quoted by Michael Sandell in his book “Justice,” page 141-2 (Penguin Books 2010)
This is my version of it.

THE VEIL OF IGNORANCE

Let us assume that we are met to decide on a fair way to live.
Imagine that a “veil of ignorance” is about to descend and once lifted we will find ourselves as someone else. We will not know what will be our future location, class or gender, our skin colour or nationality, age, sexual preferences, political or religious beliefs. Nor will we know our advantages or disadvantages, whether we are frail or healthy, highly educated or a school dropout, born to a supportive family or a broken one.
In such a situation, an extremely wealthy, male, white American president might find himself as an unbelievably poor African woman struggling for her children to survive in the middle of a long term drought, AIDS, lack of food, water and no medical facilities.

Before the veil descends, would we not find the resources and the will to succeed in creating a level playing field for everyone on which no one has the right to what they want until everyone has what they need? Would we not instantly wish we had instituted a planned worldwide economy and confer on everyone, freedom of thought?