Saturday, June 26, 2010

Essentially an Ethical Problem

I've been trying to figure out what exactly is going on with the gulf oil spill, and I'm running into the same problems you are probably running into as well. There seems to be confusion everywhere: from both BP and the government. We're seeing the classic battle of government vs. business being played out, and I'm already tired of the partisan answers that have been flashed by both sides. Political opportunism reeks as I hear politicians use this disaster to further their own ends instead of trying to come up with a way to help the people most affected.

Some people think the disaster proves we need more government oversight of industry. Some claim that this is the turning point for the environmental movement, a salient visual reminder of the consequences of industrialism. Others blame the government for the confusing response. There's plenty of blame to go around, sure, but is now the time to be trumpeting the blame so loudly when real peoples lives are, to put it mildly, in upheaval?

I think the oil spill further reveals the ethical problem facing America and it's leaders. From a macro to a micro level, ethics is eschewed as a tangential issue of little relevance to a society which has more to worry about than what is right and wrong. After all we're on the cusp of technological breakthroughs and business innovation. Who has time to stop and wonder if what we so blatantly term "progress" is actually the right kind of progress?

We don't need, as some would assert, to harken back to our "Christian roots" at the founding of our country. The fact is, there was very little that was Christian about our founding, unless you equate Christianity with a kind of therapeutic moral deism. Rather, we need individuals inside the Church to take civic responsibility seriously. We don't need to "take back the government", we just need people who will actually listen, discuss, and be willing to come up with smart solutions to tough problems.

The gulf oil spill is a complicated mess, too complicated to neatly place blame on one side or the other. It shows, however, that we as a society have more to do in terms of catching up morally and ethically to the vast complexity of technology that we let rule our lives.


jamesfenwick said...

excellent insight, Mark.

Andy Farmer said...

I found your opening line funny. I had no idea you had been put in charge of this effort.

Ironically, though, I guess we ARE all responsible for all this.