Comment of the Day: “And The Solution To This Phenomenon Is Simply Ethics. Why Is That So Hard?”

Sir Galahad

Sir Galahad

Reader Aaron Paschall was on a roll today, and his two-part comment on the thread regarding a woman’s lament about the sexual harassment she faces every day constitutes one of the best and most eloquent Comments of the Day Ethics Alarms has ever recognized with the honor. Here is Aaron’s perspective on the post “And The Solution To This Phenomenon Is Simply Ethics: Why Is That So Hard?”:

“Certainly it’s a sad state of affairs when a woman (or man) has to keep to the well-lit areas in order to avoid the dangers lurking in the dark. If Emily’s post is a lamentation that it would be wonderful if people needn’t fear the darkness, then I agree wholeheartedly. If Emily’s post is intended as a screed about how unfair it is that she can’t go walking down dark alleys as she would like because of all the nasty, brutish men lurking in the shadows, I can only laugh and say that I can’t walk down those alleys, either. Nor would I wish to, because I’m wiser than that.

“The old rules of gentility and civility weren’t perfect at eradicating boorish behavior, no. But they were a line of defence against it, and when we abandoned that line, boorish behavior advanced. Before that, chivalry and personal honor were similar lines. Religion and moral codes also played an important role. No, not every man was Gawain – in fact, none could be; he was designed to be an impossible ideal – but you knew where you were with the man who held him as a role model; who wanted to be like him. When society belittles Jesus, Galahad, and Washington – replacing them with the likes of Sheen, Sinatra, and Clinton – society doesn’t get to complain when people actually behave like the people they’ve been told to emulate.

“There is no golden age. Certain men have always behaved abominably towards women. Others have always held them up as treasures to be revered. Some men allow fame, money, or rank to be license to do as they wish. Others are famous, rich, or powerful, and retain the compassion and humility that makes them shine. The difference is that more and more these days, the old beacons of light seem to be torn down, and no new ones are replacing them. Washington? Positively Machiavellian. Jefferson? Slave owner, you know. Galahad – don’t you know that knights were little better than the thugs they organized against? Jesus – are you honestly insinuating that He is treated with respect in some way these days? Individuals may – society does NOT.

“There’s a fellow I know. Played Pickering in “My Fair Lady.” The amazing thing is, he’s exactly like that in real life.* Everyone who knows him, when we discover someone else who’s had the pleasure of meeting him, all say the same thing: “What a gentleman he is – and you can tell he really means, it, too!” Sad thing is, we can appreciate it on an individual scale – he’s our Pickering – while on the grand scale, we all admit that society as a whole casts him firmly as Don Quixote these days. Quaintly adhering to a charming code of ethics and behavior that the rest of us have outgrown the need for. And I mourn the beauty that has left the world because of that fact.

“If we hope to push against the darkness of man’s all-too-human inhumanity towards man, we need to erect MORE lighthouses. Tearing down the ones we have as ineffective, or archaic, or even secretly evil and manipulative can ONLY strengthen the darkness.”

* In “My Fair Lady,” the musical version of Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” Eliza Doolittle rebuffs her mentor Henry Higgins for treating her so rudely. She points to his friend and colleague, Col. Pickering, as a true gentleman. “He treats a flower girl as if she was a duchess,” she says. Higgins relies, “And I treat a duchess as if she was a flower girl!”

8 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “And The Solution To This Phenomenon Is Simply Ethics. Why Is That So Hard?”

  1. I would like to add that women should be ladies, to behave with honor and courtesy as well, without expecting to take advantage of the gentlemen.

  2. Well worded all around.

    One concern that maybe I’m misinterpreting:

    “The difference is that more and more these days, the old beacons of light seem to be torn down, and no new ones are replacing them. Washington? Positively Machiavellian. Jefferson? Slave owner, you know….:

    Why ought they be replaced? They were great heroes before.

    We’ve got a problem with heroes, those heroes tend to call us to lifestyles in contradiction to what society says is ok nowadays. That’s a problem.

    However, acknowledging that the heroes we put on a pedestal are placed there as examples to emulate, then we know they are necessary. Why do the ones that were torn down need to be replaced? They were fine before, why can they not return to those places?

    No human is perfect, therefore no hero is perfect either. Got it. Every good toe stubbing is followed by a solid and artistic stream of profanity, and I’m sure even Mother Theresa stubbed her toe. Although our heroes had their imperfections (many of those imperfections, when seen through their contemporary culture were somewhat alleviated), that is no reason we ought not emulate the balance of their lives.

  3. We ought not leave out the 1st hero to whom a boy is exposed. The 1st hero which a boy seeks to emulate.

    The institution of fatherhood has been under such assault in the past 25 years, either through absentee fathers, completely absent fathers, fathers whose fatherhood has been undermined by culture, undermined by addiction (related to absentee fathers), or any other various forms of the destruction of the Father.

    When our habits / personalities are generally 90% established by age 5, how can we not see the absolute necessity of a Father in teaching young boys how to behave like a man?

    In the absence of said role model (Hero), what fills that void? Television? Mothers? Just as Fathers can never fully provide the valuable facets of personality a Mother can, Mothers can never do the same in lieu of Fathers.

    Why wouldn’t generations of absent fathers or child-like fathers or undermined fathers not produce generations of adult-aged boys who do not now how to behave like Men?

  4. Might be a little off topic but the post made me think about the relationship between manners and ethics. The only connector that I see is a belief in virtue. If I am correct the challenge is to raise the public’s esteem of virtue. Do people actually think in terms of virtue? I have a hard time picturing a millennial thinking about manners, ethics and virtue.

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