Ethical Dilemmas of the Week!

I have decided that blogging is a wonderful excuse to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes - delving into the intricacies of the Grey Areas of Life. (I was a Philosophy major after all). : )

Now that 25 years HAVE SAILED BY, I can't tell you the differences between Kant and Kierkegaard, but I can pretend to wax philosophic about what is happening in my own little world. I'm interested in what makes people tick and I love behavioral inconsistencies - especially my own!

So this last week several things came up -

1. Reverend Wright.

What makes this man's ravings any different from those of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson (except that some of Wright's make sense)? Why was Obama pressured to renounce Rev. Wright while the Repubs actively court the support of Fundie Nutjobs? Is it his proximity to Wright or is it because Wright is black? Isn't all hate speech deserving of universal condemnation? Or does the voting power of the followers of a particular preacher excuse his extreme antipathy? Have the Republicans renounced Ann Coulter?

2. Horse Racing.

As a child, I remember celebrating Derby Day and loving the whole scene - the horses, the excitement, the fashion, the "gentility", the tradition, the hats! A very long time ago, I had dinner at the King Ranch and saw the 1946 Triple Crown Trophy awarded to their horse Assault. Every May, I make a special effort to either watch or record the race and I love the final furlongs when the horses battle to the finish. This last Saturday, I rushed the kids home from soccer and plonked us all down in front of the TV in time for the race. We all agreed - the horses were magnificent and beautiful and almost other-worldly in their noble demeanor. Alas - a few short minutes later, we were all in tears and I found myself wondering why the heck I encouraged them to witness such tragedy.

Last September, shortly after my "Official Chicken-Fried Steak Tour of Texas", I read a book that changed my life, Skinny Bitch. I thought it was going to be a chicklitty, girlfriendy, sassy New Yorky diet book - and it is. The authors say things like, "Smoking is SO 1989 - Nobody does that anymore!" It's funny and irreverent. It is also a diatribe against the meat and dairy industry. I haven't touched meat since and have also become a "complete vegetarian" - no dairy or eggs, or fish or any animal at all. I have stopped buying leather, down and other animal sourced products. We don't support Ringling Brothers and this year I was able to avoid my longtime favorite, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Now, I am having to re-think horse racing. It's beautiful and exciting and fun. But at what cost? Yes, these horses are bred for the sport - but who are we to make sport of horses? Would the horse choose this life given the opportunity? I read that tracks in California are changing their dirt surfaces to synthetic surfaces and the injury rate there has decreased by 75%.
WWTBD? (what would THE BLACK do? - Huh Walter Farley?)

3. Kids, Manners and Stranger Danger.

Yesterday, after YaYa's choir performance and awards ceremony, the church provided lunch. I got in line behind Dude and couldn't help noticing another little boy about his age who was talking non-stop to him about the virtues of the Nintendo Game Cube Vs. the Wii. I was amused at his eloquence and the depth of his knowledge on the subject and I leaned down and asked him (thinking he might be a fun friend for Dude), "Where do you go to school?"
His excitement immediately changed to hostility and he said, "Why do YOU want to know?"
I was blown away and just stared open-mouthed at him and barely uttered "how rude!" before he walked off.
Yes, my feelings were hurt by an 8 year old! At the same time I thought about how, as a child, if I had talked to an adult that way, I would not be here right now. My parents would have strung me up.
I got our food and settled at the lunch table and had a chance to reflect on what might have caused his reaction. The usual self-doubt talk came up - Am I scary? Do I look mean?
OR - is this a Stranger Danger thing? Perhaps he's been taught to respond to all strange adults in that way - no matter the setting.
So the question for me is, how would I respond if one of my children spoke to an adult that way? If it was some creep cruising around the neighborhood in a car and asked one of them to help him/her find a puppy, then yes, I would encourage and expect rude behavior from them! But at church? I would be mortified. Yet - does the setting really matter?

I talked to Dude about it later in the day and actually practiced a couple of responses for him to use. In the hypothetical "safe" setting like church or school, I simply encouraged him to be real - to politely tell the person that he felt uncomfortable sharing his personal information with them since he didn't know them. In the hypothetical "unsafe" setting, like a mall or a street, he can do what ever his fear tells him: scream, run for help and shout obscenities if he so desires. I am certain that he will have the emotional fortitude to follow these instructions to the letter if and when the time comes!
(OK - my feelings are still hurt by the 8 year old).

Hi Ho

Images from Google Images and my own camera.


Melanie said…
How funny is that book cover? And why is my dad circa 1983 scaring that girl?
Loved every word of this post. I read Skinny Bitch because someone wrote about that on my blog! Was it you? After watching the movie Fast Food Nation the sight of meat, other than from a family farm we know (where the animals live fabulous, grass-fed free looong lives before they're killed) makes me sick. So I do eat the family farm animal upon rare occasion. My only problem with Skinny Bitch(which is so fun!) is giving up coffee!!!! Anyway, good for you and the Reverend Wright makes far more sense thatn Ann Coulter, yes.
Colleen said…
Moyers on Jeremiah Wright:
Nicole said…
Loved this post!

I had heard of Skinny Bitch, but hadn't read it, and didn't know it was anti-meat/dairy. Cool.

I just posted the other day about how seeing the video "Meet Your Meat" got me started down the road to avoiding animal products (not all the way there yet).

You also gave me more to think about because I've lived in Houston ten years and went to the actual rodeo only last year and this year. (I like the sheep dogs the best.) Hmm. After Barbaro (sp?) and Eight Belles, it was easy to scream that I didn't even want to HEAR about those Derbies (my mom is an avid horse rider/fan)!

Hmmm. Thanks for the thoughts.

Oh, and the first thing I thought about the eight year old is that perhaps he was homeschooled...we always cringe when people ask about school (my older daughter is now "homeschooled" untraditionally and people are always curious...sigh). But yes, I'm with you...not an appropriate tone or use of word choice. I'm always amazed these days with the level of disrespect for authority figures, but I guess that's the way of the world now.

ok...ramblings are here ended! =)

(Oh, but I came her via Mrs. G. cuz you said you were from Tejas!)
Jocelyn said…
I had no idea Skinny Bitch actually had a brain in it--I thought it was just dumb Posh-Spice-like views on the world.

I have to say, though, that while the meat industry is evil, I can still make a case for eating meat--just not industrial meat.
Optimist said…
Jocelyn - I thought SB would be a light read as well, so I was surprised (and a bit dismayed) by the visceral response I had to it. Not a lifestyle change I would have predicted at all. I totally support freedom of choice around food. My kids and husband still eat meat - we just try to buy organic and cruelty-free as much as possible for them.

MM - I am with you on the coffee! I just recently got back into caffeinated (I was buying organic decaf french roast) and now am facing the "never ending headache" if I switch back. Sucks.

Melanie - your dad is a babe!

Nicole - very interesting observation about homeschool. I didn't think of that. Thanks.
LIghtKeeper said…
Well said, and good food for thought here. Thanks! I've not read SB, but it's now on my list after you've peaked my curiosity.

When I watched Rev. Wright being interviewed on one of the news stations, I thought, "he's on fire with his 15 minutes."

As for Ann Coulter ... oy! One ridiculous and scary hater, she is!

Love your pics. YaYa's soapy little face is adorable.
Barbara said…
Great post. Haven't read SB, probably should. Have read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Barbara Kingsolver inspires one to grow your own if you can, buy locally for sure. And, if you choose to eat meat (as I do), choose that which is raised humanely.

Also, saw a cool documentary - The Real Dirt on Farmer John. As much a portrayal of a true character, it shows how one of the biggest CSAs got legs. As economies change and petrol prohibitively expensive, we have no choice but to change the way we produce our food.

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