Posts Tagged ‘morality’

Peace if possible, truth at all costs

July 7th, 2009
Miles Maeda at Smartbar

Miles Maeda at Smartbar

Chicago is the birthplace of house, a electronic music genre characterized by funk-infused disco and a synthesized bassline. It transcends boundaries. No one is ostracized because of creed, age, ethnicity, sexual preference, or gender – all people come together as one, united under the same music. This is the epitome of tolerance and self-expression – you can dance as you please, and no one will care or look at you in disbelief.

To learn more, I tagged along with a couple of veteran house DJs and producers during the weekend. I had a behind the scenes look at major house clubs, such as Smartbar and Vision. Beats were pounding, people were dancing, and for a moment, the music transcended reality. But house music is more than just an adrenaline pumper. It is also about the underlying quest to search for identity and truth. At an after-party that lasted for 21 hours, a debate ensued about truth.

Truth, in essence, is absolute. Everything from good to evil, from ethically comprehensible to morally ambiguous decisions are encompassed by it.  Truth is pervasive; it exists regardless of opinion.  Any person that wants to deny the existence of gravity is welcome to jump off a bridge and test out the fact of its existence.

Everyone strives to know the truth but everyone’s perception of it is different.  In less obvious scenarios, can one really determine what is good and bad? In other words, if you feel someone acted unethically, can you tell that person what he did is wrong if he perceives right and wrong differently than you do? For example, one man’s conscience keeps him away from alcohol, but allows him to do mind-altering drugs. To the hidebound thinker, this is a moral travesty but to this drug user, this is permissible, and as long as others are not harmed, it is perfectly fine.

Is there a morally correct choice to make in every scenario?  There is no easy answer to this dilemma. Many complex issues arise from different perceptions of reality, which can commonly be seen in religion and politics, even amongst those who share the same fundamental beliefs. Uniting people under the same banner with mutual tolerance and respect is the first step for negotiation. Let the house beat go on.

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Moral ambiguity

April 5th, 2009

I am walking the fine ethical line.

Take this scenario:

You enter a hotel and use the bathroom not as a patron, but as a guest, because fate dictates that you cannot hold your bowels, and you must use the closest facilities, which happen to be inside this hotel.  It is indubitably clear that nothing is awry here.

Now, let’s suppose that coffee is sitting on a table, which happens to be next to the restroom, but also adjacent to the open dining room that is widely accessible to you.  Free coffee, you say.  Why not?  The person who entered into the hotel before you picked up a cup.

Suppose now, that the dining room has food – fruits, pastries, soda, and other delectable refreshments, and suppose that you are now extremely hungry after completely emptying your innards.  Simple, you say.  There are plenty of places where you can buy food.  But what if you have no money to go elsewhere to fulfill your fleshly desires?  Would you be at the mercy of your appetite?

Extending this scenario once more, suppose that you booked a room at this hotel with your companion and that breakfast is not included with the stay.  Your friend decides to wake up early and shell out $10 for breakfast while you, in your pitiful state, decide to sleep in.  If, on the way out from the dining room, he grabs an apple for you to eat, is it wrong for you to accept it?

This simple illustration has massive repercussions.  What is theft?  What if survival dictated that you steal?  Is there a right answer for the above dilemma, or dilemmas that are mildly more complex than a straight line from point A to point B?  Though the fine line of truth is razor thin, may it not be only the prude that reserves himself to answer such ethical questions.  It is the folly of man to not raise himself above instincts and it is but a positive hindrance to the elevation of oneself.  To propose a decency any less makes us no better than the savages of humanity that we shun.

I find myself in increasingly difficult situations where I must make a sensible effort to determine if my actions are in the right and if my conscience accepts them.  At the present moment, I am in a hotel piggybacking free wi-fi it offers to guests.  Is this wrong?  Let wisdom and scruples be the judge.