“I took a photo when I saw the guy drive away like he hadn’t just hit the parked car.”
The book I am currently working on is based on the difference between moral vs. legal law. In some cases, like hitting another car while driving, the two laws align easily. Legally you are required to stop and try to identify the owner of the parked car. Morality demands the same thing. But in some cases these two laws come into conflict- and that is where it gets interesting.
I was reminded of this while watching a new show I’ve discovered, When Calls the Heart, on the Hallmark channel. It takes place in a frontier coal mining town just after there has been a huge explosion that killed half of the miners in the town. This has left half the women windowed. In this episode the Mine owner has served eviction notices to the widows… something that is legally correct under the contracts the miners signed, but otherwise morally wrong.
It seems there are many time in our lives when we come upon these types of decisions. In this case it is easy to see the side of the widows, but more difficult to view the decision through the eyes of the mine owner. One of the reasons we have laws and contracts is so that everyone knows what the consequences are of a situation. It takes away the subjectivity and makes it, supposedly, and objective decision.
Anyone with kids knows how important this is. As parents we are often confronted with situations where our child has done something wrong, but given the extenuating circumstances we might be able to overlook it. The problem is that kids are very concrete thinkers. They need to black and white to help them make future decisions without having to wonder, is this a time I’ll get into trouble or not.
Marybeth, the main character in my book, likes life to be simple and clear. A rule is a rule, and that is how she makes her decisions. But, as the name implies, even playing by the rules can have unintended consequences, especially when it comes to protecting the environment in a country where laws don’t do the job.
The older we get, the more our big questions in life become about living in the gray area. Complexity demands this and might make us wish for the simple and pure. As I tell my daughter, though, life is about learning. And for my part, the complexity of challenging decisions is part of what keeps me growing and alive.
Have you had to face any complex decisions lately? At what age do you think kids can handle the difference between moral and legal code? I love to hear from my readers. And to prove it leave me a comment during the month of February and you'll be entered to win a copy of any of Julia Green's Decluttering/Feng Shui Kindle books. Check back at the end of the month to see if you won and to let me know which one you want.
(Please note - while I love and appreciate your comments on twitter and Facebook, only comments made here, on my blog, will be entered into the drawing - this way all who read the blog post can engage in a shared conversation about it.)