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user-inactivated  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: October 11, 2017

Hmm. I'd say it's best to look these things in layers. Let's skip Wall Street and Banking in specifics, not because I'm willing or unwilling to discuss them, but because I don't want you to think I'm digging against you or your peers.

Let's take environmentalism and consuming beef as an example. I'm gonna exaggerate and over simplify, but it's for the sake of illustration. Beef is more nuanced, just like banking, after all. I'm also taking this from a perspective that "Beef = Bad" which I wouldn't take in real life, but once again, this is just for illustrative purposes.

Cattle farming has a ton of problems. As far as resources needed to produce beef compared to calories actually received, it's woefully inefficient. It's a cause for deforestation in the Amazon. Our inflated demand for it is a cause for factory farming. It's a cause for uneven international trade deals where some people come out on top and some people definitely don't. I could go on, and on.

If we were to say that the beef industry is a source of social ill, it would make sense that we could say the guys at the top are the most culpable for blame. They're the ones who make the business decisions that lead to deforestation, exploitative trade practices, etc. etc. They have the most power, their activities have the most impact, they have the most responsibility to behave in a proper and socially productive manner.

The guys who cut down the forest? The guys who work industrial farms? They're also engaging in immoral behavior that leads to environmental damages and animal suffering. While they're not making the most important decisions, they play a crucial role in the industry. We can also say that while they're doing this for a job and might not have better options, maybe what they're doing isn't the most healthy thing for the world around them. They may not be worthy of condemnation, but they may not be angels either. Their actions though, support the guys at the top, and perpetuate the beef industry.

The guys who sell the beef? The restaurants and grocery stores? They're a lot lower on the totem pole. This time though, they're getting to be pretty distant from the source. They're not making policy decisions. They're not actively deforesting the rain forest. But, at the same time, they play a crucial role between the people who produce beef and the people who consume it. They're still supporting a socially unhealthy industry.

So what about the guys who purchase the beef? They don't make policy decisions. They don't cut down forests. Heck, they don't even sell the beef. All they want is a damn, good burger. On the one hand, they're not actively doing any of the potentially immoral behavior as listed above. On the other hand, it's their active demand for beef that necessitates a need for the beef industry to begin with.

So the question becomes then, like I addressed to blackbootz, where do you draw your moral lines, and why? At the top? Somewhere in the middle? Or if at all possible, do you try to cut yourself out of the equation completely? How much do you want morality to factor into things? How much do you want practicality to factor into things? When you know that the consequences of your actions aren't binary, but complex and layered and constantly in flux, isn't it often less about any individual choice you make and more about the position you put yourself in that affects the choices you can make?