The older I get, the less simple even the most widely accepted of life's rules turn out to be. Maybe it's just the insight that comes from having lived that much longer that prompts me to see the complexity in issues that once struck me as straightforward. Or maybe—this is the less flattering version of the previous thought—it's just easy to mouth platitudes, and significantly harder to say precisely what it is that you mean by them.
Endorsing the idea of behaving morally, for example, is simple enough. But moral choices are rarely simple, and rarely involve simply choosing between good and evil. A number of issues that I’ve been thinking about lately have driven home to me just how difficult living morally and ethically actually is.
A few months ago, I wrote about the question of the huge amounts of money certain Christian evangelists are raising for
And now the same set of questions assails the American government. Our man in
I don't raise all these questions because I know how to answer them, merely to put forward the suggestion that living ethically and in a morally justifiable way sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. The choices are almost never simply between good and evil...and, if they occasionally are, then we usually don't see the issue as one of moral ambiguity. The Torah says that we are always to choose life, to choose the path of decency and goodness, to translate faith in God into the desire to embody the finest Scriptural values in the context of our daily lives. All that is easy to say...but far harder to do when we are faced with the actual choices life constantly bring us. What is called for, however—and always—is the translation of this appreciation the moral ambiguity of daily life and its issues into a sense of natural respect for people who see an issue other than the way we ourselves have chosen to understand it. There really are, almost always, two sides to every issue. (November 15, 2007)