Feb 252011

Parenthood intensifies moral clarity.  The complete responsibility for the long-term well-being of young people underscores the need to get things right, does it not?  If I go nuts, it’s not just one life in the ditch anymore.  Little man looks to me to see how to be.  Little man asks me when he has a question about the right thing to do.  Little man has started to ask me about things he sees me do.

On matters of morality, considering the ease of explanation to a child has a way of dispersing the extraneous.

Now presuming that I do a reasonable job day to day with conducting myself morally—let’s face it, it’s not like I struggle with whether to skip out on a restaurant check, or have to restrain myself from donning combat boots and stomping baby bunny rabbits—one arena in which this clarity can be useful is politics.  More specifically, I sometimes think of my children when considering whether I believe my position on an issue is one of principle, as opposed to unsound rationalization.

Whatever your mechanism, such examination is important.  I’ve written before of how effectively the self-selecting nature of the Web can poison critical thought.  If you set out only to validate something you already believe, you’ll succeed every time.

I’ve thought more than once about, were I a supporter of their actions, how I might explain to Nathan why I think the absence of fourteen Wisconsin Democrats from the state senate is a good thing.  All have apparently left the state to deny the body a quorum so that it may not vote on Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal, which includes several provisions with which public unions and their members take issue.

Now on this point, the specifics of this bill are irrelevant, and I shall not address them either way.  It was properly introduced, debated, and everything else, and that’s all that matters.  Consequently this is simply impeding the legitimate work of government—preventing the people’s legislature from lawfully conducting business.  Is there a reasonable way to describe it otherwise?  Am I, as a hypothetical supporter of these senators, to tell my son that well, when we’re in the majority, we vote on bills, and some pass, and some don’t; but when we’re in the minority, we don’t participate?

“If I’m not going to win, I’m not going to play” is understandable, if still indefensible, from a first-grader.  How are we to understand it from grown men and women?

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