Ethics Hero: Ashley McLemore

Neal Shytles and Ashley McLemoreIt is important to keep in mind that there are an awful lot of good people in this world.

From the Washington Post:

“It started with the loneliest of pleas: “Large, 54 y.o. Christian, homeless male is looking for a person, family or couple to share Thanksgiving day with,” Neal Shytles wrote in an online ad. Last year he spent the holiday at a shelter, and although probably 200 other men were there eating turkey, “you sit down, you eat, you get up and leave,” he said. “Every day of the year is pretty much lonely for me, but Thanksgiving, Christmas is the worst time to be alone.”

So when a stranger, Ashley McLemore, offered to take him to her family’s home in Newport News for the holiday, he burst into tears. She did, too.

But that was just the beginning. His story resonated with people in Norfolk, where he has been staying at Union Mission Ministries, across Virginia and as far away as Europe and the South Pacific.”

Read what happened next here.

The lesson is that an unselfish, ethical act can start a chain of ethical acts and cause beneficent results far beyond anything the original actor could have imagined or intended. Ethical acts can go horribly wrong, too, thanks to moral luck: imagine the story if Neal Shytles had been a sly serial killer. We can’t do anything about those chaos theory results, however. The way to think about is that good things are far more likely to result from ethical conduct that unethical conduct, or no conduct at all.

This holiday tale is an excellent example of that truth, as well as a perfect instance of the Golden Rule in action.

6 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Ashley McLemore

  1. imagine the story if Neal Shytles had been a sly serial killer.

    Or if he ended up becoming Thanksgiving dinner to someone similar to Jeffrey Dahmer.

    • Part of the problem is that, in today’s society, it is all to often necessary to stop and think about the chaos results before you act. They are, literally, becoming more likely with each passing day.

  2. It’s always nice to read a good news story… There seem to be so precious few of them. I’m not sure I’d have the humility to put out that add, or the bravery to answer it. Good on them both.

  3. It is important to keep in mind that there are an awful lot of good people in this world.

    That sort of self-satisfaction opens the door to accepting oneself (or others) as good and then ceasing to seek the good. It is why nothing short of 100% is correct and even a slight shortfall is still error, though to be commended for its approach to success even so. This insight makes sense of Luke 18:18-19:-

    18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

    19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

    So commend this behaviour by all means, but recognise the remaining human imperfection by not calling it good in quite the way you did; that way grade inflation lies.

  4. A good story for the holiday season, Jack. We need to remember that there are a lot of good people out there. While reasonable precautions are also necessary with strangers, a kind deed can also make a lot of difference in the lives of all.

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