We Choose

These days we hear many people complaining about negativity in the news. This person acts out, the media pick the story up, we read it, and we complain. The place to break the cycle is in what we choose to read, what we choose to click on to learn more. Is it any surprise that politicians say outrageous things? Of course not. Why do they say outrageous things? They say outrageous things for the same reason that toddlers misbehave – to get attention. Worst of all, it works! Every day on social media people are outraged because of the horrible things someone else has said, but we read the article!

personatlaptopOn the other hand, when people do good things or say good things we find it boring and so we don’t read the article, we don’t click on the link, and then we wonder why we don’t see positive news! If we want to change this, we need to think like a news producer or a webmaster. Clicks sell. If you want to change what you see, change your choices. Do we really need to read another article to learn that the man occupying the white house is a horrible human being? Of course not – so stop reading about his antics. Are those stories about people doing good things boring? If you want to change what you see, it doesn’t really matter – click on them anyway. Nobody can tell whether you read the article at the other end of that link or not, but advertising is sold based on how many people visit the site.

We need to recognize that in a consumer driven society like ours we really do have a voice. Very often, the power of that voice is driven by the choices we make every day. These are choices about what we read, what we watch, what links we click. Those choices have more immediate impact than a boycott ever could, and they are much easier to organize. Just click!

What Makes a Right Choice?

Sometimes, knowing right from wrong seems remarkably easy. At other times, it seemsright-vs-wrong impossibly difficult. When it does seem difficult, how do we know what choice to make?

Looking to the law is not the answer. Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean it’s wrong. For example, suppose your spouse needed a life saving drug that you couldn’t afford and you had exhausted all ways of getting assistance without any luck. If you walked into the pharmacy and noticed the drug just sitting on the counter, you might steal it to save her life. While the action would be illegal, it isn’t clear whether it would be wrong. From some perspectives, it would be wrong. From others, not so much.

right-and-wrongIf tomorrow murder were made legal, would you kill somebody just because the law now said it was okay? Nothing changed about the action itself, just the laws around the action changed. Apartheid, slavery, and a host of other horrible systems were at one time legal. Some people used their legality as an excuse, others saw that participating in such a system was wrong no matter the laws surrounding and supporting it. Therefore, while laws can help us determine right from wrong, the cannot define it.

Suppose your best friend was having a heart attack in your car. Would you speed to the hospital, breaking the law, or continue driving the speed limit? Most of us would speed. One way to explain why we would speed is that speeding would be life-giving, while continuing to putter along at the speed limit would be life-denying. That is an excellent question to ask when trying to determine right from wrong. Is it life-giving or life-denying? If it’s the former, it’s right; if it’s the latter, it’s wrong. That’s true no matter what the law, or any number of “experts,” might say!