Bad Day Ethics

Here I am, getting the first Ethics Alarms post up after 2:00 am, and feeling guilty. There are about ten important ethics issues and stories to be covered, and I feel I am obligated to get them covered.

But it’s going to be more difficult than usual. We just learned that two members of our household have tested positive for the Wuhan virus. I am sick with some other damn thing, basic flu symptoms plus traveling, intermittent pain in the muscles of my back and legs (no fever, no dry cough, really no Wuhan symptoms at all other than being tired). I also have a sudden backlog of paying consultant work, which takes me twice as long as it should when I’m drugged and run-down, and I am really drugged and run down.

My father and the various cultural and historical models that formed my own values, caused me to place soldiering through these kinds of  obstacles high among my life’s priorities. My dad went though his post-military life walking, hiking, playing with his children and other activities with a roughly reconstructed foot—the result of a W.W. II hand grenade’s carnage—that looked like some kind of demonic potato. He never complained or used it as an excuse to beg out of what he considered his duties; I remember saying to my mother, “It’s amazing that Dad does everything he does with a foot that looks like that. I would think it would hurt him.” She said, “Are you kidding? His foot hurts him terribly all the time.” My father’s attitude was that tough times, seemingly overwhelming challenges  and misfortunes were inevitable and were such intrinsic aspects of life that to overreact to them or allow yourself to be paralyzed in their wake was foolish.  One of his favorite quotes was Joan Howard Maurer’s tale,

“One day as I sat musing, sad and lonely without a friend, a voice came to me from out of the gloom saying, ‘Cheer up. Things could be worse.’ So I cheered up and sure enough—things got worse.”


He didn’t expect any cosmic reward for not giving in to adversary; quite the contrary. He just believed that if you let bad luck and tragedies defeat you, you were doomed, because they were coming, and would keep coming.

My heroes exhibited the same determination: Teddy Roosevelt delivering a speech after being shot in the chest; Winston Churchill holding to his personal motto of “Keep buggering on,” General Eisenhower ordering the D-Day invasion under the worst conditions imaginable; Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling taking the mound in a critical play-off game with a displaced tendon roughly sewn to the back of his foot. My parallel life in theater absorbed “the show must go on” ethos as a life mission, though admittedly I took it to extremes sometimes, as when I insisted that an outdoor performance go on during a lightning storm, or when I refused to end a rehearsal after the building we were rehearsing in caught fire.

All of this is to say that I apologize for the limitations on my activity here, and hope readers understand that nobody feels worse about this than I do.

And I assure you that if a lightning storm won’t stop me, whatever’s happening now won’t either, at least not for long.

41 thoughts on “Bad Day Ethics

  1. Soldiering on is well and good. It can also have consequences. I worked with a Latino guy who always came to work when sick or hurting, even when he had oodles of accumulated sick time. We all got sick from him and it was often more complicated to have him there in partial capacity rather than have someone else fill-in for him. Get some rest so you can become more robust when ready.

    Hoping you and your family recover soon.

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