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Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 134                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 116

Today’s Mileage:  5                                             Total Trip Mileage: 943

Ideals at what costs?

Yesterday I blogged about the Canaveral National Seashore and then did an abrupt shift to talk about the faculty recital that I had just witnessed.  Clearly we can spend time analyzing the meaning of things, like nature, and their significance in an intellectual way.  We can also “be in the moment,” turning off our analyze functions and just experiencing the music and lyrics.  I’m reminded that the importance of nature is not in what it stands for, as much as it is in the experience it provides to us.  It can be a unifying and transcending experience that I believe is available to us if we open ourselves up to it and listen.

Hoping for a different outcome!

I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog on today as we continue to ride up the coast.  Tomorrow we will turn west to catch an important pilgrimage site before we turn toward Jacksonville and St. Augustine.  I started the day drinking my coffee and reading the newspaper.  I had to chuckle at a cartoon which showed two people living in a cave when the man says to the women: “if you keep harping on the $#@! Results, you’ll NEVER be able to see what a perfectly sound economic theory it was!”  I have had similar discussions with individuals about political theory, theological theory, and psychology theory.  It is important to have a theory to guide our decisions.  However theories must be tested with the “data” and adjusted accordingly.

Years ago I had a colleague who spent twenty years researching a particular area of study.  He had published books on the topic and was a nationally recognized expert.  Then after a series of new discoveries, made by other researchers, it became obvious that his theory no longer explained the data, and that a new competing theory was better.  Like a good scientist he published a statement acknowledging the validity of a new theory.  It takes a strong and secure person to admit that their ideas are no longer supported.  Only then can a person truly move on and make good decisions, otherwise you are just doing the same thing and hoping for a different outcome.

As I drove to the university I heard a piece on the radio news announcing a proposed law in my state.   The topic is a hot button issue for many people and occurs against the larger backdrop of stories about people sufferings (e.g., Haiti, unemployment).  Politicians in Washington struggle with how to deal with so many people out of work, so many people running out of unemployment, so many people losing their homes, so much suffering!  With this backdrop of human suffering what I see is a need for compassionate responses.  A need for decisions that actually take into account those who are suffering!

In the mean time, a state legislator from my state has proposed that coverage for any abortion, for any reason be dropped from all state health plans.  If this proposal becomes law my state will turn to a young woman, a victim of rape carrying a pregnancy she did not want and tell her, sorry there’s nothing we can do!  My state will turn to a young woman a victim of the most hideous breach of trust, a victim of incest, who is carrying an unwanted pregnancy and say to her, sorry there’s nothing we can do!  My state will turn to a woman in danger of losing her life because of a threatening pregnancy and say to her, her husband and family, sorry there’s nothing we can do!

Ideals for all of us!

Why can’t we do the obvious and offer them the option of terminating the pregnancy of resuming a somewhat normal life or saving their life?  We can’t because we are striving for an ideal, an ideal world in which there are no abortions.  If we create such a law are we really moving closer to this ideal world?  Will there be less rape, less incest, fewer unwanted pregnancy, fewer pregnancy related deaths.  Is this ideal world a place without compassion, where the only concern is for the “pregnancy” whether wanted or not?  Ideals are important, ideals are benchmarks we can work toward, and ideals help us redouble our efforts toward our goal.  However, an approach that champions “ideals at all costs” ignores the cost of their positions, ignores the victims and becomes another variation of “ends justify the means.”

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 43                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 44

Today’s Mileage:  10                                           Total Trip Mileage: 365

 

Visitor Center

As I ride the bike I recognize that we are quickly approaching the west coast of Florida.  We will visit Marco Island in coming days and then head towards Naples and our next Pilgrimage Site.  Our travels today take us past the Collier Seminole State Park so I will include photos from the park for your enjoyment.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Yesterday I spoke about the “levels of analysis” we may use when talking about spiritual and religious matters.  In my Psychology of Religion class I steer my students away from the usual “who has the right/proper form” questions towards these questions: how do religions and spiritual systems attempt to meet individual and community needs? How are different religions meeting the same functions with similar processes?”

Canoe trail

Today I’d like to speak briefly on the topic of morality from a functional perspective. Specifically  I would like to address the question:  how do we judge morality? I often hear people speak of other people’s behavior as being moral or not moral.  This is a deceptive simplification of the issue, we call dichotomous thinking.  It’s not that one person has a set of morals and the other is totally without.  The real issue is that the one person’s behavior (the actor) falls outside of what the other (the viewer) sees as moral.  However, in all likelihood, it fits the definition of “moral” held by the actor.  While one person might view going on a gay date as immoral, the person going on the date may judge it as the moral thing to do as they are acting in a congruent way between their feelings and actions.  For that person to deny and not act on their homosexuality, would  be for them, a deceptive and immoral action. I believe if we step back and take a functional approach to analyze conflict laden situations, we will see that both individuals have morals and both use them to judge their actions and choices. It’s in the content of their morals where the differences exist.

Primrose with visitor

In my current academic research I have come across the works of several Social psychologists in working  the field of Moral Foundations Theory. Recently the authors, Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, and Brian Nosek, have reported finding that liberal and conservative individuals base their moral judgment and decisions on different sets of moral foundations. 

Moral Foundations Theory hypothesizes that there are five sets of “moral intuitions” which people use to make their moral judgments.  These include: 1) Does the action harm another and is it caring (Harm/Care),2) Is the action Fair towards the other individual and promote reciprocity (Fairness/Reciprocity), 3) Does the action fit with a loyalty towards one’s group (Ingroup/Loyalty), 4) Does the action show respect for prevailing authority (Authority/Respect), 5) Does the action fall within one’s views of what is a pure or sanctified behavior (Purity/Sanctity). Their research indicates that while individuals tend to use all five of these foundations, clear difference exist between individuals who rate themselves as liberals, who make primary use of Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity, versus conservatives, who make more or less equal us of all five foundations.

Salt Marsh Mallow

These findings point to and highlight the source of conflict between individuals on the opposite ends of political and religious discussions.  Liberals look first and foremost at the impact a choice or decision has on minority members of the society. Conservatives give significantly more weight to tradition, established authority figures and ideas of “right and wrong” as defined in sacred texts.

These authors note: “Western societies are growing more diverse and with diversity comes differing ideals about how to best regulate selfishness and about how we ought to live together.” Political and religious issues overlap in areas like abortion, separation of church and state, waging “just” wars, and gay rights issues, to name a few.  Whenever I hear a discussion concerning political and religious issues among individuals from opposite ends of the political spectrum, I remind myself that we all have morals and that we strive to live by them.  While this recognition may not help us find a common ground on questions of content and form, it will at least keep us focused on the other issue: the shared need to find a basis for our living together as a community.

What are your moral foundations?  Go to www.yourmorals.org and complete the online questionnaire to find out!

Sunset over the park

Thanks to the Florida State Parks Service for the wonderful photos.  Visit www.floridastateparks.org for more information.

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