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Readings for Reflection: July 2013
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Moral Integrity

The following is an excerpt from "If Your House is On Fire” (The Sun Magazine, December 2012, pp. 5-15, or thesunmagazine.org/issues/444/if_your_house_is_on_fire), in which Mary DeMocker interviews nature writer and philosophy professor Kathleen Dean Moore. As we face difficult economic, political, and environmental situations in our lives, here are some thoughts on what we can to do to keep on keeping on. The words are Moore’s.

People tend to think that we have only two options: hope or despair. But neither one is acceptable. Blind hope leads to moral complacency: things will go better so why should I put myself out? Despair leads to moral abdication: things will get worse no matter what I do, so why should I put myself out? But between hope and despair is the broad territory of moral integrity – a match between what you believe and what you do. Act lovingly toward your children because you love them. You live simply because you believe in taking only your fair share. You do what’s right because it’s right, not because you will gain from it. 

There is freedom in that. There is joy in that. And, ultimately there is social change in that. That’s the way we respond to a lack of hope. A person could be at zero on the hope-o-meter and still do great, joyous work. Even – especially – in desperate times, we can make our lives into works of art that embody our deepest values. The ways of life that are most destructive to the world often turn out to be the ones that are most destructive to the human spirit. So, although environmental emergencies call on us to change, they don’t call on us to give up what we value most. They encourage us to exercise our moral imagination and to invent new ways of living that lift the human spirit and help biological and cultural communities thrive.

… We can find the ongoing strength to do this work if we keep in mind that it is powered by love.

All Readings for Reflection
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