Week Before The Big Day Ethics Warm-Up, 10/26/2020: Most Of All, “Thank-You!”

Thank you

The big day, of course, is October 27. That is the 26th anniversary of my son’s birth, which occurred in a genuine hell hole (I’ve been there) in Russia. For reasons Watson and Crick could explain, Grant Viktor Bowen Marshall is very different from his father in many fascinating ways: he chooses his words carefully and keeps his own counsel; he is confident in his relationships with the opposite sex; he has the magic touch with all things technical and mechanical, including automobiles and computers; he couldn’t care less about such things as politics, dinosaurs, old movies, magic and live theater. But in ways B.F. Skinner would understand, maybe he’s not so different after all in the ways that matter: Grant has always refused to be influenced by the crowd and peer groups; he is not a follower; he seeks out knowledge and information, is a risk taker, and shares some of my stranger tastes and sources of amusement.

Best of all, my son is kind, thoughtful, honest and courageous, and Grace and I could not be prouder of him. He has weathered far more challenges in the first quarter of his life than either of his parents had to, and come out of those tests a better and stronger human being who, I am certain, will be equal to anything life throws at him from here on.

October 27 is also the anniversary of the day the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 after 86 years of frustration. At the time, I told Grant that he had the Sox to thank for the fact that I would never forget his birthday, unlike, for example, those of his grandparents and mother. That landmark still means a great deal to me, even in a season where, for the first time in more than 50 years, I will not watch a single World Series game, and because of the sport’s unconscionable groveling to Black Lives Matter, my relationship with the Boston baseball team is in serious question.

Now on to the real topic of this post..

1. Thank you, everybody. Over the weekend, I received in the mail a check for over 2100 dollars, the result of the generosity and appreciation demonstrated by 47 Ethics Alarms followers. (One additional reader sent a gift directly.) The unexpected bounty was the result of a GoFundMe appeal by prolific commenter Steve Witherspoon, prompted by this whiny post written during a low point earlier in the month. I swear that it was not calculated to prompt anything but Ethics Alarms’ readers’ understanding of my state of mind, which is relevant to what topics I choose and often my analysis of them.

I haven’t felt this humble—as you might guess, humility is not one of my hallmarks—since my father helped us out with a mortgage payment during a professional crunch, telling me at the time that he admired my decision to be a self-employed ethicist rather choosing other more lucrative and secure options available to me, and that he wished that he had been able to chose a pursuit that he felt mattered for reasons other than feeding the family and paying the bills.

As it happens, your gift, like Dad’s, comes at a propitious time in the journey of ProEthics, for the lockdown has been hard on the ethics business. The gesture is most appreciated, however, as what Steve intended it to be, which was as a demonstration by readers that what I’m trying to do here does have meaning and value, something that I questioned in the referenced post.

Thanks. I needed that.

I promise to continue to strive to raise questions and prompt discussions here on the wide range of ethical issues facing us all, as well as the others that I just find interesting, and hope you will too. And I want to say that I am grateful and thankful to all Ethics Alarms readers, not just those who responded to Steve’s kind appeal.

I ended that October 4 post by writing,

“My whole life’s goal has been to try to stimulate people  and to build things that have a valuable purpose. Right now writing the blog just feels like sitting around and complaining, and little else. That makes me feel impotent, petty, and old.”

Because of Steve and the rest of you, I do not feel that way today.

(Well, maybe just old.)

30 thoughts on “Week Before The Big Day Ethics Warm-Up, 10/26/2020: Most Of All, “Thank-You!”

  1. I may not have been able to contribute to the gift, but I just want you to know that I’m very grateful for a blog like this.
    I have learnt a lot here on thinking critically and honestly and humanely.
    This site has contributed to my intellectual growth over the past 4-5 years and for that I am very grateful to you.

    Thank you. Very much

  2. I feel the same way as Ifechukwu.

    I don’t always have something to contribute to discussion, but I’ve learned a great deal the past several years about recognizing unethical behavior for what it is and the rationalizations used to justify it.

    Thank you very much for what you do.

    And Happy Birthday to Grant.

  3. Yw, I thank you for hosting an honest discussion on a lot of things, and I thank you also for your patience with a lot of us, myself included.

    • For those that didn’t get to see this elsewhere on the blog, here is the finally tally for the fundraiser…

      I could never find out where the $0.06 over charge came from but I suspect that it was an international donation where the US dollars were not 100% equal to the donated dollars or there was a small percentage fee for the cross border transaction. Six cents just wasn’t worth any additional leg work on my part to figure it out.

      P.S. If anyone has noticed that I’m not participating much over the last week or so it’s because I’m really busy taking care of my wife after double total knee replacement surgery at the beginning of last week. It’s going to be a long hard road for a few weeks but hopefully it will make her retirement much more enjoyable; she retired October 16th.

      • My wife had a knee replacement a bit over a year and a half ago, Steve, just one, so I can empathize halfway. Best wishes to your wife for as quick and complete a recovery as my wife had. And, thank you for coordinating the very much deserved donation for Jack.

      • Jack’s voice is necessary to my mental, intellectual and political health, Steve, so I am most grateful to you for facilitating its continuance via improved technical equipment. In other words: thank you for the idea, your time and your effort.

        Also, may your wife have a short recovery time and fast rehabilitation.

  4. Funny thing about value, we often fail to realize what is truly valuable until it is lost.

    This site is one of the few things that are really important to me. I wish it much success in the future.

  5. You’re welcome, Jack.

    Just remember that you don’t get to see the full impact of your work. As a small example, I talk about your posts on Ethics Alarms a fair amount at work. One of my coworkers has started asking “what does your ethicist friend have to say on…?”. I can bet that he takes some of conversations home to his wife. That might in turn influence her, who is a school teacher, and that might have some impact on a class of third graders in Rawlins, Wyoming. Who knows how far the ripples spread? They usually spread far beyond what we expect or imagine.

  6. I think everyone who could contribute was more than glad to make that “thank you” gesture. Thanks, again! (And thanks, Steve).

    Happy birthday, Grant!

  7. What a great, model tribute to one’s son. I need to remember to be better about giving my son praise. A few days before he died, aged 90, my father said, “Bill, you’ve been a good father.” He was a wreck by that time and either demented or addled by medications. It may have been a Freudian slip as by that time I had effectively become his father in terms of responsibility for his care. He didn’t say, “you’ve been a good son,” but I decided at the time, “Hey, I’ll take it!” They were the first kind words about me that had ever crossed his lips. Fortunately, my mother was the most terrific mother a person could have and my dad was in most important ways a very good father. And I knew well he’d had an unimaginably tragic life as a child and young man. Praise and affection were not in ready supply for him. A father’s approval is essential for sons. Its absence can cause young guys to seek the approval of others in all the wrong places. Its lack led to some dumb moves on my part, I’m sure. So, all you fathers, particularly of sons, follow Jack’s lead as often as possible.

  8. And hey Jack, for a man who was at a loss for words, you did your usual pretty darned good job with the ones you found to say thanks. Hah!

  9. Most dads will tell you they can’t think of any words to put on the card or say to their sons other than “Happy Birthday.” Congratulations to your son for making his own way and to his parents for letting him do so.

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