8.06.2008

Unsustainable

One of my very favorite books is Joseph Ellis' "Founding Brothers," a delightful look at the extraordinary group of leaders who shepherded our nation through its early years.  An entire chapter is devoted to the dilemma of slavery: almost everyone understood it to be morally wrong, and yet entire economies were based on its existence, and even a gradual cessation of the practice would almost certainly throw the new nation into chaos.  In this sense, the reason why the issue was effectively postponed until the Civil War was practical and not philosophical: no one argued in favor of slavery as a good thing, they simply said our nation and our economy would suffer irreparably if it was outlawed. 

I cannot help but think of, and encourage you to contemplate as well, the practices in our modern day that are unsustainable, whether environmentally, economically, or morally, but that are allowed to continue because we do cannot envision a world without them.  If we want to scold the forefathers of our nations for allowing the reprehensible practice of owning another human being, we ought to take a good hard look in the mirror - and at our newspapers - and do what we can to end any of our own reprehensible and otherwise unsustainable practices.


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