Jay Thal (jay.thal@TCS.WAP.ORG)
Wed, 29 Apr 1998 22:04:33 EST
Musing..... (not 3G)
What do we lose by being too quickly judgmental?
Tuesday I was watching CNN, and they have a program called *Talkback*. The
issue at hand was a young woman; high school student, with a 3.8 GPA; abundant
community service; and an unwed mother, being excluded from her school*s
chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS). She is, or so we are told, a bad
moral role model.
The NHS national policy does not call for excluding youth for their dalliances.
This was a local policy, established in 1952. It was as if they
superficially read the message of Hawthorne.
Most of the students in the audience (including NHS members) favored her being
admitted to the NHS. Were they practicing revisionist morality? Others said
that morality is immutable, parochial policies should not be ignored or
The problem is that pregnancy and motherhood is visible. Others, the father
included, could be as promiscuous as the want as long as no one asks, and they
do not tell.
And so I turned from the TV to our merry band of woods(wo)men, and what they
had to say for the day. Two messages popped out at me as I read: David
Yanke*s response to Mike Walton, Re: Moral Dilemma; and, G. John Marmet*s
Re:U.S.: What are we teaching our kids?
Day to day we are dealing with difficult questions. But it is not a theocratic
world we live in. The three branches of the U.S. government help balance out
the potential excesses of any one. So the secular world takes from, but also
balances, the demands of the *moral* community so that we can coexist.
Mike was not calling for the Scout, in question, to avoid telling the truth or
accepting the consequences. IMO, he was suggesting that there is an
appropriate process and venue to address what is, after all, a secular issue
and being assured that he is afforded due process. Those processes are
designed to prevent that school school principal, or us, from acting out of
passion or without deliberation.
Which, of course brings me to G. John Marmet*s legitimate concerns on how we
recognize and acquire wisdom, and how we are prone to replace thought with
formulae, which lacks compassion. Like him, I cannot solve it.
There are instances in which I, too, believe in zero tolerance. There are
behaviors which need to be circumscribed - generally, ones that harm others.
But the accused still needs to be afforded real, not the illusion of, due
CNN, as it happens, was also covering the Congressional hearings on alleged IRS
excesses, and internally disparate treatment based on levels of power. I
recognized the problem, not from the IRS but from another agency where I served
nearly 30 years. I would guess that horror stories could be told of the
private sector, too.
The same message conveyed to that Fifth Grader continues into later life - tell
now and you suffer, tell later and you suffer, too. Inner satisfaction can
come at an awful price. Whistleblowers are often punished, and the crimes of
perpetrators are expunged if they cooperate.
I am reminded of an instance where, in public session, I asked the Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development what he was prepared to do to protect
Whistleblowers. His answer was: R...do you mean squealers?S.
So, what are we to teach our kids?
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City