The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other


Maybe his mother died when he was young. Maybe the other kids made fun of his big forehead or paid no attention to him at all. Maybe he'd been socially inept (he was now) or he excelled in school but was never accepted. Maybe he's angry at the world, which never gave him a fair shake, presumed too much, and judged him too swiftly. Maybe he was just a bitter man without cause. Maybe the love of money is the root of all evil--the love, not the money.

Whatever the case was, he was a man without business ethics. He had no moral scruples about how business was handled; it only mattered that what was accomplished made money. Money defined success. More money equaled more success. They were, for him at least, directly proportionate.

So, when he finally owned the whole town, he set out to be successful. He opened gambling establishments where the same fiscal virtue could flourish: more money equals more success. Alcohol could be had on the strip to rob the poor who had failed. Exotic dancers entertained the minds of those who had to pay for what they couldn't get otherwise. What people wanted he gave them. And they gave him his success.

Perhaps you are saying that money is success and would have it no other way. Perhaps you believe that these means are completely justified, legal, permissible in achieving success. Whatever pays. Whatever people want, we give them.

So the end, success justifies the means...what about a thief? Is his theft wrong if he gains money? He's successful right?

Oh, then we must qualify it. How? Why?

If we must qualify the means by which we gain success, then where do we draw the line? Why at theft? Because it's illegal, outlawed by an apparent majority? If it were legalized, would that make it okay? Is a majority agreement the determination of when success is rightly or wrongly obtained?

The fact remains, he sought the quickest method to achieve accomplish his highest virtue: money. That was through legal, though disreputable means. Should he be blamed? Well, yes.

But, that's the demand of the people, the way they will most willingly part with their cash. True.

So is he wrong to give them what they want?

It must be decided whether to favor or object to his fiscal virtue. Does he have a moral responsibility to avoid disreputable means to success? I'm sure his thinking went something like, "Well, if I don't cash in on this, someone will."

He wanted to be the first, to cash in the cow, because money was success. He wanted success for himself, not someone else.

Both he and the consumers reveal humanity's fatal flaw. We want bad things. He wants success in the form he's defined. People want what's perverse products because it gratifies a desire.

And both feel powerless to refuse it. They bear no personal responsibility because "If I don't, someone will." And we don't want others to have something we don't have. We're innately selfish. You and me.

But, money has no conscience, only people do. It's guides our moral choices, but we feel no responsibility, so we ignore it. So business gives consumers what they desire because it makes money. And people take what's available precisely because availability seems to determine it's acceptability.

I hear there's a market for mail-order brides these days. I think you can still buy slaves on the black market too.