I decided to start with the Best in Ethics this year, in contrast to other years, on the theory that it would get things off to a positive start in 2014. What it did, instead, was make me realize how negative Ethics Alarms was in 2013. Either there wasn’t much positive going on in ethics, or I wasn’t seeing it. My thanks to those of you who send me nominations for Ethics Heroes (and other stories); even when I don’t write about them, they are valuable. Please keep them coming. In the meantime, I pledge to try to keep the jaundice out of my eye in 2014. Things just can’t be as dire as they seemed last year.
Here are the 2013 Ethics Alarms Awards for the Best in Ethics:
Most Important Ethical Act of the Year:
The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, paving the way for the universal legalization of gay marriage. Yes, it was a legal decision, but it was also based, as all such culturally important decisions are, on a societal recognition that what was once thought to be wrong and immoral was, in fact, not. This is ethics, an ongoing process of enlightenment and wisdom about what is right and wrong, and the U.S. Supreme Court did its part. Continue reading
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Young Christian Lunsford was disgusted when he saw the TV report about the mugging of seventy-eight-year-old Tona Herndon of Bethany, Oklahoma, robbed while visiting the gravesite of her husband of 60 years, who had died just two weeks earlier. It wasn’t merely that the mugger took a purse and $700 from a vulnerable and grieving woman, but that the culprit was Christian’s father. He had been quickly arrested, and his mug shot, shown on TV, was all-too-familiar to his fifteen-year-old son. Christian’s parents divorced when he was two, and his contact with his father had been minimal as the elder Lunsford kept ending up in jail. The teen had recently heard from his dad, however, when he sent Christian $250 to pay for his participation in a school band trip.
The latest crime, however, moved Christian to do something exemplary. He contacted Tona Herndon and asked her to meet him in a church parking lot. When she did, he mugged her too, as a tribute to his father.
No, that’s not what happened: I was just messing with you. Continue reading