Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Right vs. Easy

From Dr. Sanity:

I wrote in a previous post titled "What is Easy vs What is Right," a comment on the most recent Harry Potter film:
...Rowling's series has become the metaphor of our times. Whether this is conscious or unconscious on Rowling's part is neither here nor there.

When Dumbledore says to Harry at the end of the movie (paraphrasing), 'Dark and difficult times lay ahead. Soon we will have to decide between doing what is easy and what is right,' he is expressing the critical moral issue of our own time.

There are many people in this country who always demand that we take the easy path. Those are the same people who put enormous stock in opinion polls and make decisions based on how popular they are likely to be. Somehow they have forgotten—if they ever knew to begin with—that doing what needs to be done, the right thing, is not always the popular thing. The hard choices and the sacrifices necessary to see them through, are beyond the moral, intellectual, or physical capacities of such people—unless they can feel the polls are with them—then it magically becomes very easy.

"…if they ever knew to begin with…"

Haunting words. I contemplate why what Dumbledore says is so evident to me but not to others, and I realize that it is the result of relentless training—brainwashing!—by my parents and my church and occasionally by the media.

It was all those Sunday School lessons in which I was told over and over and over that doing the wrong thing is easy and doing the right thing is hard, and that sometimes that's how you tell them apart. It was my mother dragging me back into the grocery store when I was six after she found the butterscotch candy I'd stolen from the Brach's display. It was the numberless novels and movies in which the hero is faced with a choice between right and easy and chooses right, even though it costs him in the short run.

Have those narratives disappeared from society? Is it not just the porn and gore that's the problem with today's entertainment but the loss of plain old truth-telling about reality? Are today's parents not setting a good enough example for their kids? Do they not insist that their own children make the tough choices?

I fear not. Look at programs like Nanny 911 and Dr. Phil and you'll see an infinite parade of parents who honestly don't know that they're supposed to say NO to their children. Who give in to the child's demands instead of putting up with the child's tantrums. Who do what's easy instead of what's right a hundred times a day.

These parents are supposed to produce adults who can preserve our nation? I don't think so. I really don't think so. Zeus's knees, we are in trouble...

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