“He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determine the end” Albert Einstein.
Good Friday Morning! With no more Olympics to try to watch we are now being tortured by what passes for politics in the 21st century. No matter which side you support, it appears that things have sunk to a new low. Petty and malicious attacks, outright lies, borderline propaganda, neither side is acting in a way we can be proud of.
Which made me think of the old saying: does the end justify the means? Should we follow Malcolm X’s command: “By any means necessary?” And the question does not just apply to politicians. In life generally, we see examples every day of people who make bad choices because they feel that the ends justifies the means. Whether it is trying to make money through a Ponzi scheme or cheating on taxes, we seem to think that once we have the money we can use it to do so many charitable things. We can help others. We rationalize that the ends justify the means.
But what lessons are the next generation learning? Youth athletes see their idols fall prey to illegal substances. Turns out that the cyclist with all those world records may have been getting unfair help from banned drugs. How do we teach kids that it is not right to look for short cuts, that we should be proud of achievements earned through sweat, discipline and hard work, even if we don’t win gold. The message they seem to learn is that you have to find ways to cheat the system.
In the academic world we see students who spend more energy trying to cheat their way to an education than in actually learning. There seems to be no conscience, no real understanding that plagiarism, cheating, buying exam answers is not the way to start a challenging career.
But how do we teach values, a sense of right and wrong in a society where the real message seems to be: don’t get caught. We see banks that have made billions of dollars by many questionable and downright immoral investments while the little people end up homeless. At the end of the day the CEO’s are pulled before Congress, wrists are slapped, and off they go, back to rape and pillage.
At the end of the day, it is up to us, to each of us, to try to set a good example for our kids, and hope that we can show them that the means is as important as the end. How we live our lives is important. Most of us are fortunate enough not to live in the glare of paparazzi; we can get away with making imperfect choices. But how will the world change if we continue to accept the lowest common denominator, if we find it not worth fighting. We have to demand better of those in authority, and demonstrate better ourselves.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said that the “Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”
Have a great weekend Family, may you sleep with a clean conscience!
Looking forward to another fantastic Labor Day weekend in South Florida with the party people of Clarendon College!