Today’s Query

If your life was totally free from role expectations and limitations, and you had unlimited resources at your disposal, what would you do with it?

We have spent our entire lifetimes trying to fit into someone else’s idea of what is right for us; assembling our bodies according to society’s formula of the perfect women, forming our thoughts and opinions to suit our audience, limiting our feelings to what’s acceptable, and formulating our behavior and actions according to the expectations of others. We have become emotionally crippled as a result of habitually abandoning ourselves to fit into the shapes of others. Each surrender of our feelings, our truth, and our originality becomes a mini-abduction of who we are (Patricia Lynn Riley)

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17 thoughts on “Today’s Query

  1. Just wondering, what sort of role expectations do you mean?

    If I was free of responsibilities and had unlimited money, from a me-centered perspective, I’d travel for a while.

    I’d still put down roots here in Utah, probably closer to my folks, in a small house with big rooms.

    I’ve often dreamed of doing random things for people. I’d buy my dad a new car. Heck, I’d buy them a new house and have it built on their current lot.

    I’ve often thought about setting up a temporary housing system where the homeless can stay as they search for a job and whatnot. And I don’t mean a shelter either. I mean individual apartments, each with their own address. The service would include help with food and clothes and education (if needed).

    You did say money was no object, right? 😀

  2. Kay,

    Oh, you know sexual and gender roles, the roles men and women are expected to play to keep society “in order.”

    Yes, money would be no object. I think those are some fine goals!

  3. I love to ponder this. It’s part of my reginmen of positive thinking that keeps me going.

    I would toss my IT professional career – faster than you can blink an eye. Then I’d set up a quiet homestead on 300 acres someplace where I can learn self-sufficiency. After I mastered it, I would take those skills to others who could use them to improve their lifestyle by being less dependent on a money economy. I’d have more kids and adopt some too, then raise them in a completely unconventional way. I’d create a safe place for my family and friends to escape from the world any time they needed. I’d live on a schedule of sleep 4 hours, awake 8 hours, and ditch the traditional schedule of night and day. I tend to be a night owl and my natural schedule doesn’t like to be conformed to tradition. I would give. A lot. Every chance I got. I love to see the relief on someone’s face when I can help ease their troubles. I’d spend the rest of my life learning anything and everything I could imagine, never feeling selfish for immersing myself in some newfound skill or concept. When I needed to feel connected to the world, I would put my finger on the globe randomly and then visit that places to learn about the people and document their culture in photographs.

    Reading back over this it sounds a little hippie-ish. Oh well. It’s what I’d do.

  4. If I could make a brief male intrusions here, what’s wrong with “hippie-ish” anyway? Without ideals and idealists, we have no aspirations.

  5. Reg,

    He who lives life with head in clouds stumbles over many rocks.

    I just made that up, but I beg to differ. I am not an idealist and my aspiration is to be alive tomorrow. That’s about it. Beyond that I’m not going to worry about.

  6. So, if a child of yours had a career choice, one involving working for a private equity company solely dedicated to shareholders’ profit, regardless of consequences for others, and the other involving study to undertake medical research, you would have absolutely no vistige of feeling in the matter, beyond which option would secure the child the maximum potential income?

  7. Reg,

    I would say it’s up to said “child.” Adults are responsible for their own decisions. What I think doesn’t matter. That’s like asking which is more ethical: working for Budweiser, knowing that your product maims or kills untold lives each year through misuse…. OR… work for a hospital. It’s a bit unfair considering that no choice of ours can be solely made without some consequence elsewhere. We cannot be held responsible for secondary or even tertiary effects of our personal choices can we?

  8. Sorry to labor this. I take your point about my bad example. On what would you base your decision if faced with a similar choice? If that choice involved anyone beond your immediate family, what’s the moral imperative?

  9. Reg,

    That’s alright. I don’t mind a little “testing” of my theories. I’m always open to amending them if they don’t work.

    But, if it were me. I’d say again (broken record) survival is the moral imperative. If I or my family were starving would I steal. Yes. If I got a job offer to work strictly for profit at the expense of others and it paid really really well, yes I’d take it. Would I take part in directly harming others like the Nazi doctors or Mafia hit men? Nope, because I only believe in killing except in self-defense. Would I jump in and save a drowning person? Not without a life vest! I can’t swim, so if saving another meant sacrificing my own life? I wouldn’t do it for a stranger. I’d do it for a family member however.

  10. On second thoughts, I’m not sure I do take your point about my example entirely, because I wasn’t suggesting that it was your decision. I was asking you how you would feel about that decision. Can you honestly say that you are not exercised about the ethical choices of others, especially those close to you, just because the decision is theirs and not yours?

    If someone went for a maximum survival decision that was ethically reprehensible in your view, I’m sure you would have feelings about it, even if you didn’t feel you could do anything.

    In other words, I bet you’re more ethically driven than this post would suggest.

  11. Reg,

    Ok, how would I feel? I don’t think I’d care all that much. I hate to disappoint you in that other things in this life move me to disgust more than a person’s job choice: the abuse of women and children, the fact that nurses aids get paid so abysmally in nursing homes, etc.

    Of course, my despising Viagra ads is not stopping someone putting food on someone’s table, as do some Sploggers and Spammers that I detest, even though it gets my goat.

    I just don’t think it’s possible to live a life in which every aspect is ethically a good choice. Even workers in third world countries who some say are being exploited for capitalist reasons are putting food on their tables. The only thing unethical about it is if they are slaves who had no choice in the work (i.e. diamond “miners” in Africa, sex workers in the Sudan, or kidnapped children used for nefarious purposes).

    So how would I feel if my son worked for an industry whose byproduct might entail killing? It’s all a matter of perspective. My second son is in the military and I’m no less proud of his decision than if he were a doctor in a hospital. Both might be called upon to make “unethical” decisions according to somebody in the world. Like all choices such as this, the circumstances are relative to the ethical issues involved, yes the dreaded situational ethics of religionists is unavoidable in every day life. One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter in this world. Another person’s humanitarian is taking food out of the mouths of poor families. That’s the way of the world.

  12. You wrote:
    “I hate to disappoint
    you in that other things in this life move me to disgust more than a person’s job choice:”

    Now I can contain my disappointment just as you, I feel sure, can contain your hatred of disappointing others if it doesn’t immediately threaten your survival.
    In my case, I’m not disappointed, because I don’t think I was asking if employment choices were of primary importance. I thought I was asking whether ethical choices in general had any place in this reductive pessimistic landscape. In expressing concern for “the abuse of women and children, the fact that nurses aids get paid so abysmally
    in nursing homes, etc.”, you would seem to indicate that they do. Just because survival is a prerequisite for anything to happen in our human realm doesn’t make it the only thing worth bothering about. Carbon is essential for life as we know it, but there’s a lot more besides.

    I presume you can imagine a scenario where things that might hurt you, or things you detest might exist to a point at which life became not worth living. So it’s not just about survival is it? If survival has to be “worth it”, then we’ve already gone beyond survival itself.

  13. Reg,

    You know, it’s funny you say that because I’ve never reached a point where I thought that life was not worth living. It’s worth it because I’m in it. No, not the fact that “I’m in it” is worth it to anybody else; but it’s worth it to me. I’ve never really had a depressive bone in my body despite my apparent pessimism. So, no I can’t imagine a scenario that would lead to that thought. I guess all that I’m trying to say is that what I can change I try to change if I can. What I can’t change, I don’t worry about. My opinions about the ethical positions people take are just my opinions. Can I change other people’s opinions?? My experience tells me “No.” People believe what they want to believe and do what they want to do in their own self interest. Does my opinion about it change anything? Nope. How do I feel about it? Mixed. Overall, I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.

  14. OK, I fear lost potential. I’m not a Christian, but parts of the Christian message are something to which I aspire, including the parable of the Talents. If we label challenges outside our immediate circle as not worth doing for all kinds of good reasons, nothing would ever get done. You strike me as having much more intellectual potential than I. I would hate you to waste such potential in constructing a philosophy whose principal end was the pointlessness of using it.

  15. Reg,

    Well, I never had anyone worry about my lost potential before. Interesting. I’ve long since given up on the “power” of potential. There’s just no room for it in a “room” where all the voices are much louder than mine. I honestly think that the idea that we can change anything is illusory, something people sell us to get us to do their dirty work for them.

    I’d hate to be the final nail in your coffin of faith in purpose, so don’t let me stop you! I was always partial to the Workman’s Wages in which the last person who shows up gets the same wages as the person who showed up first. 🙂

  16. Reg,

    On another note, please don’t get the impression that I don’t care at ALL about ethics, truth, beauty, or anything at all, because that wouldn’t be true. I have just come to the realization about what I can and can’t change in this world. That’s not defeatism, but being realistic. If something were in my power to do it, I would. When it’s not, I don’t waste my time on it.

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