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It’s difficult being good. But not impossible. Tell us how. June 16, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading this by Eva Wiseman on the ‘dilemmas of trying to live ethically’ it reminded me of debates we’ve had on this site in the past and efforts to list resources that – well, shall we say, most positive for workers or have other principled aspects.

Wiseman is correct in part:

As I read about the ethical problems with Airbnb, Uber and every other smiling company that makes our lives easier, I am under no illusions about my own goodness. I believe it is almost impossible to live ethically as a human being. There is no way for humans to inhabit the world, is there, without spoiling something crucial. We are massive ruiners.

I think there is something in that. We live on pyramids enmeshed in threads, unseen for the most part, of exploitation that stretch around the planet. We who live in Europe or North America in particular, but everywhere and everyone does.

Wiseman asks (rhetorically):

And when we do act ethically, isn’t the main gain simply a “sense of wellbeing”, perhaps the most vanilla of the senses?

Perhaps so, and yet the effort has to be made. It is possible to minimise that exploitation. Wiseman is correct that ‘surely the responsibility shouldn’t all be ours’.

Products and services should not come to market if there is any chance they have passed through the hands of a slave. It doesn’t sound like too much to ask. And shouldn’t there be an equivalent to the nutritional facts on tins, a label with quantities of evil? We’d be able to budget more effectively – an Amazon Prime here, a speak-up-when-an-acquaintance-makes-a-racist-joke there. That’s how I’m learning to live. A charity bake sale, an Uber home. A meat-free day, but wearing a really cheap T-shirt.

Putting down that book has made me look at how much I choose not to see. It’s no revolutionary realisation, but as we find increasingly meaningless ways to balance our ethical chequebooks, I am embracing my limits. As long as we try not to be the complete worst and accept our scumminess, then there is little point in asking how to be good. The answer, surely, is to try and simply be good enough.

Fair enough, but it does require effort.

So, any suggestions on how to live that bit more ethically in these and other areas? All suggestions gratefully accepted.


1. Michael Carley - June 16, 2016

A small thing, but a concrete one: go to a cash desk with a person on it in supermarkets rather than use the `self check-out’ (which deserves to be a euphemism for suicide).

Of course, if England lose this afternoon, all my charitable impulses will be drowned in cackling. It might be the last time for a while immigrants get to enjoy discomfited English nationalism.


2. LeftAtTheCross - June 16, 2016

It’s a pretty difficult ask. It seems that any economic activity whatsoever within the framework of capitalism probably has some negative effect somewhere along the line. What to do, become a vegan hippy? I’m reduced at this stage to checking that fruit and vegetables aren’t Israeli. And try to use public transport as much as possible, or cycle. Anything else just seems to fall so far short. Oh yes, sticking with the ESB or whatever it’s called now. Send the kids to state schools. Join the Workers’ Party.


3. sonofstan - June 16, 2016

pay for music occasionally to prevent a world where only the same sort of kids who get to do the prestigious internships get to be in bands, because you don’t make any money until you get to make too much?


WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2016

I have that policy entirely. Music may be ‘free’ but musicians deserve the money. The only thing I don’t pay and I’ve mentioned this before is where stuff is long deleted and not available to pay for online or off. I think I mentioned before an online fund for those in such straits would be good.


Michael Carley - June 16, 2016

I will always buy a CD if I like a band’s gig and I buy music and rip it at home rather than get it free.


4. roddy - June 16, 2016

I failed this very evening.Mrs Roddy called a prominent SDLP politician “a snobby cow” and I did’nt “speak up”!


5. Chris Fogarty - June 16, 2016

My wife and I hope that others will emulate us. We are making genocide less available as governmental policy by vindicating the “stupid” Irish “Potato Famine’s” 5.2 million murdered-and-slandered-ever-since. Despite official Irish foot-dragging we are installing memorials over some of Ireland’s hundreds of mass graves of 1845-1850.. Our mass grave memorials all name the specific British reg’t(s) that removed that district’s local food crops at gunpoint to the ports for export. We’ve installed two in Co. Galway, two in Co. Roscommon, one in Co. Louth near the Meath border, and have a few in the pipeline. Go thou and do likewise. We might end genocide in our time!


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