“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.)
Author Note: Just in time for Thanksgiving, this is one of my all-time favorite posts. I hope you enjoy reading it as much this time around as the first time.
Overheard on... the phone
“Wrapping each other up in towels and cramming themselves into the laundry baskets may be fun, but it’s not really sustainable fun.”
My sister and I were talking about our Thanksgiving dinner but I found I had to keep raising my voice to be heard over the mayhem occurring in the background of her house. As usual, with a family of six, there was a stack of laundry that needed sorting and folding. However from what I could hear on my end of the phone it sounded like every time she made a pile, one of the kids or family pets would ruin it. Definitely not sustainable fun!
I was intrigued by this phrase though, wondering if it might capture a whole new parenting vocabulary. Not just sustainable fun but also sustainable work or schedule or communication or friendship. At my daughter’s age of eight few ideas stay sustainable.
For example, she recently decided to help feed our dog. In concept, fantastic. In reality, one forgotten meal and the plan was dumped. Definitely not sustainable.
Or we decided at one point that rather than argue about things that made her unhappy we would pay attention when she raised her hand and
discuss it logically, reaching a decision after hearing from her. I think it was the conversation that went something like; “It’s time to-” hand raised and discussion, “I was not going to say homework, I was going to say brush hair-” hand raised and discussion, “If you are willing to go out like that-” hand raised and discussion, “Yes, we still have to go to church.” Hand raised and discussion. … You get the idea. After half an hour of this I had completely forgotten my original request, we were late to church, and she still didn’t have her hair brushed or know what the consequence would be. Definitely not a sustainable plan.
Sustainability, whether in our energy plans or in our families, takes a future view that is not always easy to see through the murk of our everyday lives. We want what we want when we want it. Still, it is a goal worth pursuing. A sustainable goal, if you will.
My sister eventually did make it out of her house, ready for an activity that wouldn’t leave her house in shambles or one of her children in tears. The laundry, however, is still sitting there.
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