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  • Reverend James Squire

Pay me Now Or Pay Me Later

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

In the mid 1970 (s) the Fram Oil Filter Company introduced their legendary slogan, “Pay Me Now Or Pay Me Later”. Make a small payment now for one of our oil filters and it will save you lots of money later. It was the key statement for their brand. It is also a key statement on how to live the good moral life. We are a culture of sound bites. Companies focus on the short attention span of people. The Fram sound bite is right up there with “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz! O What A Relief it Is!””, the sound bite for Alka Seltzer, another iconic sound bite in market popularity.

“How is Pay Me Now Or Pay Me Later” an iconic sound bite for the moral life as well? Present choices will determine how we will live into our future. I have written in a previous post about Judith Viorst’s book, Necessary Losses. She reflected that every action causes us to lose something as we move forward. Life exacts a price! We need to assess in our daily lives what that price means to us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian, wrote a book called the Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer stood up to Hitler and paid the ultimate price. He was imprisoned for his views and hung the week before the Allied Forces defeated Hitler. He based his decision to stand up against injustice in his understanding the Gospel of Jesus. He knew the price that he would pay in attempting to save others. He was paying the price of love. In World Religions and Christianity this is the question that counts. “Is my action preparing me to love?”

We should consider how our choices affect future considerations. We saw this graphically in the insurrection incited by Trump and his enablers.

There are many people who depend on the news cycle. I can do what I want to do regardless of the consequences as people will forget about what I have done and move on to the next newsworthy topic. There is an interesting result of thinking that out of sight is out of mind. We are seeing the consequences of the Republicans’ actions and others who supported Trump’s fiction. Forbes Magazine wants businesses to refuse to hire any people associated with Trump because they would not bring truth to their organization. Businesses are withdrawing support from his enablers. His lifeblood of his brand is tarnished beyond repair. It has been speculated that in the future parents will tell their children that “They shouldn’t lie or they will wind up like Trump.” Trump will sit beside McCarthy as his name will reflect the worst form of behavior. He will be known as the antithesis of our first president’s folk tale that “He never told a lie.”

There is some credence to people’s view of the news cycle to just wait out bad news and keep our heads down. This is less likely to occur with women. Deborah Tannen, one of the leading voices in gender studies, makes the point that “women never forget” for they create intimacy by communication and resolution whereas “men want closure on an issue, forget about it in the interest of moving forward”. It is interesting to me that when I was teaching this aspect of gender issues in my Ethics class that every girl and boy in the class nodded their heads in agreement. You have to look at relationships if you are going to study Ethics for Ethical issues don’t occur in a vacuum One girl summed it up when she volunteered, “I remember what one girl did to me in first grade.” Forgive maybe, but not forget. Deborah Tannen was in search not of who we should be but how we really are. Gender is shaped by culture. Another culture may find men and women acting in the opposite way.

As we move through life what is the consequence of what I am doing now that may exact a price for me in the future. We refer to this as cost/risk/benefit analysis. There is a system of ethical thought that is literally called consequentialism.

“Pay Me Now Or Pay Me later” would perhaps be expressed in today’s culture as good and bad Karma. What you do can come back to you as approval or put a stamp of disapproval on you. People in a moral culture know that their past deeds eventually catch up to us. That is Trump’s cautionary tale.

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