The Second Biggest Moral Question
The Three Wise Guys continue their discussion of the biggest moral questions facing society. We independently came up with the three biggest questions each of us believes humanity is facing in our time. This week we discuss what each of us believes is the second biggest moral question for our world.
Rabbi: Last week, we each offered what we thought was the biggest moral question facing society. Rev, you said, "Can we address the problem of climate change?" because if the Earth is uninhabitable, nothing else really matters. Imam, you talked about people questioning whether or not there is a God, and I said something very similar. The two of us agreed that this represents our moral center or compass for how humanity is to behave and live together. So, let's talk about the second biggest moral question facing us.
Imam: For me, the second biggest question is, "Why in the 21st century are we still so fixated on war and the destruction of human life?" We know that one of the very first problems that humanity had, when Cain killed Abel, is the taking of human life for the sake of jealousy, greed or power. And yet we have still not learned the lesson, and we continue to kill each other at alarming and horrifying rates through war and other violence. No other species on Earth is developing weapons of mass destruction.
Rev: I would say that the second biggest question for me, which may be considered an umbrella idea, is, "Can we have universal 'just treatment' of vulnerable people?" This can relate to persons of color, people of religions different from our own or who hold to no religion, female persons, LGBTQ people and a number of other groups -- often minority people -- who are quite vulnerable in many ways in society.
Rabbi: My second biggest moral question is related to the fact that I think we have lost our perspective on this: "Can we restore our sense of the protection and saving of life as being our highest value?" Again, the Imam and I are fairly close in our idea about this incredibly important question.
Imam: Perhaps if we could engage in the fair and just treatment universally of every person, as the Rev has suggested, that may get us a long way down the road to protecting and preserving human life. It is interesting that no matter how we frame the questions, they seem to always be interrelated.
Rev: It seems to me that's true, Imam. One of the ways that we seem to discount each other or demean the other is in regard to the cute catchphrases to which people have become so attached. One of my least favorite phrases that is used far too frequently today -- in fact, it probably should not be used at all -- is the term "politically correct." What this phrase really says is that a person very much dislikes having to be sensitive to or caring about another person (also see "snowflake"). We have learned to take noble ideas and make them sound stupid or idiotic. To me, this phrase is nothing more than a dog whistle for a particular group of people to justify not having to care about or have concern for another group of people.
Rabbi: It is sadly true that many in our society seem to have made their life mission finding ways not to actually care about other human beings. For instance, if we did take the sacredness and inherent value of human life to be essential, we would do something about the lack of health care for so many. We would resolve problems around guns that result in murder and mass shootings and suicide. We would put resources into things that protect and save human life. Instead, we value things like possessions, making huge amounts of money, having power over others and "winning."
Imam: Sometimes it's hard to believe that we are supposedly the most evolved and intelligent species on Earth. I ask myself all the time, "Why are so many so obsessed with destroying other human beings?"
Rev: And what's very interesting is that we are on the cusp of some tremendous new technology. Some of it can truly help in the enhancement of human life and help us to live more holistically, intelligently and just plain better. And yet, we spend huge amounts of resources funneling that technology into more efficient ways to destroy each other. It's absolutely mind-boggling and tragic.
Rabbi: It's my belief that all of that is based on fear. We spend too much time focusing on things we need to fear, people we need to fear and ideas we need to fear. And fear leaves people incapable of creative thought and higher brain-function thinking. Faith has a lot to say about how to help people overcome fear and find ways to live in greater harmony with other human beings and with the Earth that all of us share.
Imam: So, it's time for us to take a deep breath, say some prayers and open ourselves up to the wonderful possibilities that lie before us as the human race. Love life -- yours and other people's -- and help each other, as much as you can, along the way.
The Rev. Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steven Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri are The Three Wise Guys. Their website is at http://twgradio.com/. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2019 Rabbi Steven Engel, Imam Muhammad Musri and Rev. Bryan Fulwider
Distributed by King Features Syndicate