Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » “How were we supposed to know?”


The first blogger I began to read with any consistency was a Chesteronian fan who would often said these words “How were we supposed to know?” when somebody proposed a ludicrous philosophy. Common sense is not so common these days. Instead of listening to the passed down and solid advice of the democracy of the dead, adults these days play with fire and get burned. Our maturity levels probably match our reading levels and having taught fourth grade I found out real quick that John Grisham's works are given a fourth grade reading level. We jump on board with the virtue of selfishness or maximization of profits being the sole good and then act surprised when a CEO frauds $3 billion dollars. Then we act surprised again when this CEO gets an astonishing, not 40 years, but a 40 month sentence. As Abby Zimet reported this, she also showed a picture of a homeless man, a hungry homeless that was sentenced 15 years behind bars for stealing $100 from a bank. He said he was hungry and needed to stay in detox. The teller handed him 3 stacks of bills, he took only one one hundred dollar bill and handed the rest back and turned himself in a day later. Something in our common sense should say, “Wait a second, this doesn’t seem fair.” But we are reminded in short term that “Everybody has a right to act however they want, do disagree with this idea is equal with discrimination.”

In a time and place that we scream at big government for intruding on the lives of others, it is obvious there are times when business can do the same. It will be both that need morals to be good. Neither are good or bad by themselves. With the recent years of CEOs being caught in many types of illegal and wrong actions, some universities are stepping up to the plate to produce some kind of conscious in their graduates. A recent HBR blog article reported on a symposium that discussed not how to do things right, but how to do rights things.

Whereas I am glad to see symposiums develop to at least question and dialogue about good and bad actions, aren’t they trying to reinvent the wheel? I mean, really, who expects them to end the meeting with a keynote address that will conclude that stealing is actually virtuous, fraud as good as courage, lying equal to truth saying, laundering as exemplary as providing for a family, and cheating on par with sharing? Don’t we seem to know that stealing, fraud, lying, laundering, and cheating is somehow bad? Is the problem not knowing these simple things or not living the hard things? We get leaders that come from our culture. Our culture says “Anything goes.” When somebody follows this great saying of “Anything goes” we scream for being hurt, or we scream at the idiot politician for sending pictures on social media of himself in pornographic poses, yet we defend the viewing of pornography as a great pastime while asking ourselves in hindsight, “How were we supposed to know...that our leaders would succumb to such behavior?” "How were we supposed to know that pornography can hurt marriage?" Either our vices are great and we call good what tradition has passed to us as bad, and lift up those leaders with such vice as the paragon of the good life or we recognize that there are good actions and bad actions, all actions either lift up humanity or dehumanize the person, and celebrate those heroes and heroines of our culture that truly reflect a beacon of virtue, those people who chose a good action with a good means and a good end. The third option is of course, declare “Anything goes,” all choice is good, and then wait for the peanut gallery to ask “How were we supposed to know?”