Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Doing Unto Others and Ethical Choices

Choice is a value that makes us human. Humans have a choice because they have a mind, that can reason about difference in values and the choices that uphold those most important values. People choose what they do for different reasons. But, all humans choose what they value most, or think is most important in spectrum of choices. Reason, then, is an important human attribute to develop.

World religions have different ways of addressing the ethical, but the ethical is understood to define what is universal. In the Judeo/Christian tradition, the universal is the Golden Rule. In Kant's moral philosophy, it is the categorical imperative.

People usually agree about the universals, the "ideals". But, they diverge in how to decide to act in a real world that is not ideal. That is the quandary for all decisions in this life, whether the individual, group, or nation.

How do we resolve the dilemma to the questions of choice and the ideal in an imperfect world? Well, that really depends on how you view the world and the players in the world. Conservative Christians believe that God acts in the world. But, what this means differs. Some believe that God does miracles directly impacting the world, while others believe that God has given humans the mandate to change the world.

If we believe that the world needs change, whether one believes that it comes about directly from the hand of God or not, comes about by understanding the importance of the Golden Rule. How are we to apply that in our imperfect world? The Golden Rule cannot be implemented without choice, so government is a priority. Good government is made by people who are public servants. And the American government is the best means of choosing these public servants. These public servants are called to maintain the values of freedom for our people in religion, vocation, and lifestyle (within the bounaries of law).

Therefore, good government is the most important value to pursue, so that the moral order can be maintained, and people can live in peace. It is also most important so that individuals can make their choices in freedom.

The ideal values of religion are relativized to good governance in allowing choice in a real world.

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