Sunday, May 8, 2005

The burden of morality

Have you ever wished you just didn't know better? Wouldn't life be easier if you had never learned certain things that now affect how you live?

Oh, to live in the days before I realized that we had a government that lied to us and an economy that exploited us. If only I could have remained in that adolescent haze where I believed that America was not only a potential but an actual beacon of good and justice in the world. Now there is rarely a day that something in the news about our policies home and abroad doesn't disgust me. The country sits back and lets themselves be raped and plundered by evil men, and it makes me want to scream. I feel outraged not only at the pirates who rule the world but at the peasants who take it without a struggle, who freely give themselves because they think their overlords earned their position fairly--and one day the peasants might as well.

I remember a time when I didn't think every time I went to a restaurant about how the server was being treated by all her other tables and how she deserved far more than she got. I can recall looking at beggars on the side of the road and thinking, get a job, before my parents drove me away in my self-satisfaction. There was a time when I ate animals that had been tortured, drugged, and slaughtered and I loved the flavor. Now I sometimes feel guilty when I eat cheese because even though no animal was killed I know that "organic" dairy cows are still horrifically mistreated and their male offspring are taken away prematurely and often sold as veal, licking the nails in their wooden pens to get enough iron to curb their anemia. The mothers wail for days. But tender veal is delicious, and every time I have a glass of milk I am saying it is OK.

Learning the way the world works has brought me the twin pleasures of anger and guilt; anger at the world for being the way it is and guilt for not doing enough to stop it. It is hard to be good, it takes effort and vigilance. You have to try and try to do the right thing while managing not to beat yourself up when you discover that you are capable of making the same mistakes as everyone else.

But it is worth it.

It is definitely worth it.

And I am an eternal optimist. Despite the feelings I am expressing, I really do believe that people are capable of great good. I have no doubt that, ultimately, the future will be a far better place than the past it overtakes. That's why I don't give up and give in, and while I may not do as much as I could, I do what I do and I think it helps.

At the very least, it helps me sleep at night.

1 comment:

  1. I really admire you for your optimism, Ryan. I wish I could have as positive an outlook. I'm working on it, but it just doesn't come all that easily.