A Moral Life
Written by Elliot Temple

Orignally posted on the Taking Children Seriously List, on Nov 12, 2002

One challenge in a moral life is to conduct relationships. Many of these involve interacting directly or indirectly with people we do not personally know well. Morality imposes certain constraints on how we conduct ourselves -- some strategies will fail. Potential immoral strategies include hating people for being Jewish, American, rich, or white. These strategies are wrong because (among other things) they fail *on their own terms* -- the terms being an attempt to successfully integrate moral relationships into a fulfilling life.

In America there is an astonishingly effective set of traditions (property rights, money, free market, our laws, etc) to facilitate these interactions. If one alienates children from these traditions, characterising them as coercive and the children as victims of them, they will surely find it hard to make use of them. The "coercive nature" (failure to work) of the traditions thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, perpetuated not by the rich on the poor, but -- per usual -- by parents on their children. And those who do value the traditions and succeed become demonised by the alienated children -- after all, if the traditions do not work, then the successful people must be cheating.

(Read more of Elliot Temple's writing at Fallible Ideas )