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  • Reverend James Squire

Weather and Whether

The weather was the big story this week. It was certainly guided by ethical decisions that choices have consequences. Being prepared for all possibilities was key to helping to keep the death of people and destruction of property as low as the leaders could, realizing that in some parts of Florida would receive the storm of the century. I arrived back on the Chesapeake last night and learned that they expected the temperature for early the next day would be in the 40(3). It wasn’t. He got down to the low (60s). But it is summer! Idalia and other storms, wind, and fire such as in Maui are signaling what climate change will do in the future. Ethics demands that we aggressively pursue getting our and the world’s global footprint to be less.

But here is a word that sometimes begins ethical decision making. That word is whether as in whether there is a lack of ethical behavior. It often requires us to put ourselves in the place of others known as empathy, step number 3 of Dewey’s Decision-Making steps. There are examples from this past week’s news.

We start with Florida and the billions of dollars that will be required to make things better after Hurricane Idalia. There are not enough funds in the FEMA budget to give what is needed there so a vote is needed to add funds which the Republican Party is reluctant to do. Choices have consequences as the Governor may discover. The question is whether more funds will be allocated so that Florida will be helped when he, as well as many other Republicans, voted against funding to help with the major damage in the northeast including Governor Christie’s state of New Jersey. Congress also knows that we are probably not done with storm damage for this year. DeSantis has a major failing. He doesn’t see where his decisions will affect whether he is he is perceived as ethical in the future. He says that he has moved on from his high-profile attack on Disney, and he hopes they will as well. I hope they don’t! He is doing that because the Republicans as a whole support business. He attended a gathering of a black man, Eddie Irizarry, who was killed by police. Irizarry was not fluent in English and posed no threat. Whether DeSantis has been right to proclaim that “Florida is where woke goes to die.” as well as attacks on black people in general, he believes that they will be somehow be forgotten by the black community. He was booed mercilessly by the crowd when he arrived to speak and do his duty as governor. A black official had to quiet the crowd because DeSantis certainly couldn’t. Someone needs to tell DeSantis that Florida is not the nation.

A second issue is the shooting of Ralph Yarl and whether Andrew Lester was justified in his defense of his home when Yarl knocked on his door thinking that his brother was there. It was the wrong address. Missouri has a “stand your ground” policy that states that it is legal to protect yourself and family if someone invades your home. The question is whether you think that an 85 years old man with health issues should be charged. His wife was in a total care facility. He had no history of race issues and lived in a somewhat isolated area. Put yourself in his position! I don’t think that was the ethical decision to make particularly because Lester called 911 and demonstrated a great deal of remorse. He told the police, “He was at my door trying to get in, and I shot him…” Lester said. That’s all I remember.”

There is more to that example as well in that three neighbors came out to help Yarl. In a classic ethics case called the Kitty Genovese Case (reported inaccurately by The New York Times), Kitty was stabbed in the courtyard of her apartment and no neighbors came forward. What it tells me is that the neighborhood in which Yarl was shot was not a bastion of racism. They forgot to look at the whole context and focused on race.

During the Republican Debate I want to know whether the Republican candidates knew that the Democratic Party’s position on abortion does not extend up to the time of birth or were they ignorant of the facts. Someone once said, that you are entitled to your opinions but not to your own facts. The Republicans took a very specific fact that if the mother’s health is at risk, abortion would be permitted up to the time of birth. Late term abortions make up 1% of all abortions performed and they are not routine but difficult to get. Clearly the Republicans did not know anything about the Jewish Ethic’s Law of the Pursuer which states that if the pursuer, in this case the fetus, is a threat to the mother, the mother’s life comes first. I think that you have to ask whether the Republicans just ignore Jewish ethics. Orthodox Jews would support the Republican view, but the Conservative and Reform Jews would not. I wonder whether they feel left out! They ignored the ethics if those two groups in the past. You have to ask whether you think that we are a Christian nation or a nation that supports all religious views.

Now for the easy ethical stuff! The issue whether you believe that Justice Thomas’ Republican Conservative benefactor would choose to give Thomas all the gifts, trips, and houses that he received if he were not on the Supreme Court. (I won’t even get into Thomas’ wife who accompanied him on most of those trips and was part of the group who believed Trump’s lies.) There was no relationship with Thomas and his benefactor before he was on the Court. Give me a break!

In addition, Alito, Roberts, and Thomas think that they should have no ethical standards to guide them whether they have the lowest rating of any Supreme Court in history or not. Whether they should have guidelines or not is answered that they should not because it reduces their effectiveness to act free of constraint. The word most often used is “independent.” They are one of three branches of government. The other two, Executive and Congress, have ethical guidelines in place. They are independent as well. The Supreme Court doesn’t have a corner on the market of that description.

Next time you have to make an “ethical decision, try to insert that troublesome word “whether” to sharpen your response. It is may be as important as was preparation for Hurricane Idalia.

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