It continuously amazes me how so many things we take for granted are ethics issues are often politically motivated. You can see examples of this in just about any common issue people disagree on in ethical questions. Political groups seize ethically-minded groups and use them to further their own aspirations. One example that I have noted is the "Green" movement. At heart, the concept behind it seems very ethical. Sure, we all should take care of nature. Sure, we want to protect the environment. But, often the forum becomes a platform for some political entity and all goes awry. And, this is what happens with PETA, a group that is "for the ethical treatment of animals." Much of their funds are used for campaigning, and most of their "issues" are things that have nothing to do with saving the planet. They produce more merchandise for us to buy that fills up the landfills, and has nothing to do with saving the planet, except that it carries the word green on it. Many Washington politicians climb in jets, wasting natural resources, while boosting the price of crude oil to raise gasoline prices. So, their motive does not appear to be true to me.
Another example, the United States, the European Union and Japan have accused China of violating world trade rules to manipulate mineral prices, rare-earth minerals which run the electronics we use, like mobile phones, computers, and smart bombs. China controls 95 percent of total rare-earth supply because
1. Even though traces of the metals can be found around the world, they are rarely in high enough concentrations for mining to be convenient or profitable.
2. The mining is a very environmentally destructive process, and China has a disregard for health, safety and environmental controls in order to boost their dominance in the market.
3. Salty, radioactive water kept leaking from waste evaporation ponds, leading to the closure of our main mine in California in 2002. (We are trying to clean the process up now.)
This situation is a political issue, because China uses the rare-earth market to control foreign countries and manipulate world-trade. In 2010 China began restricting rare-earth exports, and prices spiked around the world. They use a tiered pricing system, favoring production in their own country, in order to get electronics companies to build in China, using Chinese labor to save on rare-earth cost. Otherwise, American companies have to pay double what Chinese companies pay for rare-earth. In the end, the Chinese economy gets a boost, the Chinese get more jobs, and this makes it easier for Chinese companies to steal foreign intellectual property. Simply put, China’s dominance over these 17 elements discourages innovation around the world and threatens national defense.
Because of these problems with the Chinese, a Malaysia mine has opened, and in California a company called Molycorp has reopened what was the world’s most dominant mine before the 80’s. It is predicted that in five years mines will open all over the world and China’s dominance will wane in rare-earth, along with their power over the world electronically. Meanwhile, the mine in California is selling what they are producing faster than they can get it out of the ground. More info on the issue can be found in this Wired Science article online.
So it seems that much of our ethical policy is motivated by expediency; what is convenient for politicians to gain power. The movie clip above from Year of the Dog shows a scene of a woman who is trying to get petition signatures for her own reasons for PETA. And, it appears that, "the ends justifies the means" of obtaining signatures, at least in her eyes.
This raises the question, does it matter how you go about something, as long as it is for a good purpose or cause? You know, to my way of thinking, I hear people say all the time that the reason China dominates in the electronics market is because they will work cheaper. It appears that that answer really masks the facts. As this movie clip illustrates, it's more about control than ethics to many people.
Look back at the ages old story of King Solomon in the Bible. Two women had babies at the same time, in the same household. It appears, according to some accounts, that they may have been prostitutes in a brothel. But, one women awakes in the night to find that her baby has died. So, she secretly replaces the baby of the other woman with her own, so she will have a child. When the other woman awakes in the morning, of course she realizes the dead baby is not her child. So, they appear in court before King Solomon, both claiming the live child. Solomon asks that a sword be handed to him, and declares that he will just cut the baby in half and give each woman half of the live child. The mother of the dead baby is pleased with this decision, because now the other woman won't have a baby either. But, the true mother immediately cries out for the baby to be given to the other mother just so the child can live, even if she doesn't get to keep it. Solomon realizes that she is the true mother, because she is motivated by love for the child and not greed and selfishness.
That seems to be a parallel to many moral issues today. Sometimes people are motivated by true concern about morality. But, often it can truly be politics that drives morality positions.
In college Economics classes, we learned about the laws of supply and demand: when demand increases, supply dwindles, and prices rise. Conversely, when demand drops, supply stockpiles, and prices are dropped to encourage sales. This makes sense on the surface, not requiring much thought. But, things can get sticky when you start trying to balance all the factors of the economy, ask any president.
I think I've mentioned the following example before, though I couldn't find it in my blogs. But, we were placed on this simulation computer game near the end of Economics, where we were newly elected President of the USA and were given fictitious figures for our "economy." Our job was to balance the different factors; such as inflation, unemployment, interest rates, deficit, etc. and get elected for a second term. Of course, if you did poorly, you could be assassinated before your first term ended.
Our teacher gave us a target figure for each factor, which was incredibly difficult, and we struggled over a couple of class sessions trying to get just the right utopian conditions in our game. But, one factor or another continually seemed to allude our efforts. I decided the little incremental changes I kept making, edging closer to the goal weren't working and suddenly chose to move in just the opposite direction with one of the factors than what I had been doing. The contradictory action defied my logic and thinking. It was a harsh risk, taken because all my prior logic wasn't working. Strangely enough, it did the trick. I reached the targets.
I don't remember a lot of the things I learned in Economics, (except that people buy more lemonade when it's hot and sunny.) But, I certainly remembered the results of doing just the opposite of what wasn't working, even when it defied logic. Philippians 1:19 Paul spoke these words from jail. He was in bonds...in Christ. He was at odds with the world system around him, but at one with God. He was without resources, without income, without physical liberty, but with supplies of the Spirit of Jesus. He had everything that he needed. God provided what Paul needed through His body, the Church, and through His Spirit, the Holy Ghost. Phillipians 4:18-19
The world is often at odds with the Bible. Public and social expectations often contradict Spiritual and moral expectations. You won't often get a thumbs-up from a hands-down world. Jesus said, don't let your left hand know what your right hand's doing. Matthew 6:3 Of course, this was in a specific context and not to be generalized too extremely. Jesus was referring specifically to giving offerings quietly and generally, to doing things to get God's attention and not the attention or reward of the public.
Sometimes, people will look at your top-down model of decision making and exclaim that your method seems mad. They operate from a bottom-up model; everything you do seems to defy the curve. Simply put, you appear irrational. But, their method is not really working for them, now is it? By top-down, I imply that I see the standards and morals in the Bible as coming from God to man. While the world's model of decision making is based on mores that come from the heart of man and confuse personal demand with ethics. This is called situational ethics, or the idea that ethics change based on the situation in which you find yourself. This is often articulated as, "everything's relative you know!"
Well, yes It is all relative. It relate to your goals in life. Where are you going? What are you seeking? Whose demands are you trying to meet? If you know whose payroll you're on, then you know where the supply comes from. Don't expect the competition to contribute supplies to do your job.
I lift my eyes unto the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and Earth.
-Song excerpt from: Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns
Psalms 121:1-2 I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from which comes my
help. My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
I am having trouble staying awake today. I have caught myself sleeping with the mouse in my hand 3 or 4 times throughout the day. Of course, the Cinco de Mayo fajita dinner I had with my husband at La Conquista this evening did me in for good. It's ok, because I had no appointments or plans today, other than rest. A nap would have been a great idea...you know, one of those powerless naps.
Acts 20:9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
I think the bigger problem in life arises when we are spiritually asleep. This does not mean you sleep in church, because I'm sure we've all done that before, despite efforts otherwise. Though we see from Eutychus' experience that it is not a good idea to sleep in church, We are not often still, and there you are, sitting and listening. But, that's simply human frailty... like the habit of yawning. Your brain is short of oxygen, because you are not moving around enough to breathe deeply. So, your respiratory organs get the message to take a deep breath, and a head full of oxygen. But, spiritual lethargy has its repercussions.
Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
People have different reactions to the things they hear and see everyday. On TV, for example, some people enjoy watching mysteries, and crime dramas, while others may not be able to watch for their own reasons, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. Jesus also explained in Matthew 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Those who can't bear to see the crime shows may enjoy music that others would not care to listen to because they prefer to only listen to "Christian" music. This is not unusual, or even inconsistant, but it simply illustrates Paul's point. It is how it effects your heart and conscience. I believe the biggest problem comes in with the way we can be lulled to sleep in a sense to the real world around us. I've noticed that it is often easier to watch political intrigue and political upheaval on TV than it is to see it happen in the world around us. In the movie or book, you see the good guys and the bad guys. That is reassuring that all is well in the battle of good against evil. But, reality is not like that. People are human. It is not always easy to spot the wrong around us. Ethics get washed out in the laundry, much like laundered money, literally and figuratively. We wake up one day and find that right and wrong have changed. Probably the biggest task is staying sensitized tothe Word of God. I know whether I have veered or stayed on course by the effect that the Word has on my heart and ears when I open my Bible. Afterall, that's often a big wake-up call, no matter how long you have been churchified. No, they don't make reality shows about God do they? Have you ever wondered why? Probably because reality shows are not really reality. God is the ultimate reality.