Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Complexity of Morality Duality

Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions. - Ayn Rand

Everybody makes excuses for themselves they wouldn't be prepared to make for other people. - Rebecca Goldstein

The ego is a mean mechanism which mobilizes the absolute strongest rationalization traps in order to preserve itself. - David Jascha

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …

The two lawyers sat in a Starbucks in a city in Alberta and stared in silence at their respective coffee cups.

The older of the two alternated between sighing heavily and biting his lip in frustration while his younger colleague said nothing.

“What really ticks me off more than anything”, said the older lawyer as he broke the silence, “is the lack of morality in this matter.  How dare someone do such a thing and think that they can get away with it?  There is something seriously wrong in a world where people seem to think that they can get away with acts highly deficit of ethical or moral substance while thinking they can do so without fear of retribution or rebuke.”

He lightly struck the table between them with his fist as he shook his head in anger.

“How dare they?”, he said forcefully but not loudly.

“I don’t know”, muttered his younger colleague.  He had always looked up to the partner seated across from him but now he wondered if he had aligned himself with the wrong mentor.

“What do you think I should do?”, asked the older lawyer.

His younger colleague shrugged.  “I’m not sure”, he replied, “I don’t have any experience with stuff like this.  I don’t know if there is much you can do at all.”

“Well”, continued the older lawyer, “there is one thing that I can guarantee you.  If I find the son of a bitch who did it, I will have his butt hanging from the flagpole.  It is a sad day when we allow the immoral and unethical to do things that interfere with hard working people like us.”

He was interrupted by a chime from his phone.  He picked it up and examined the message displayed.

His face began to darken in anger and he looked up at his younger colleague.  “I’ve got to go”, he said tersely, “she is sending me some material and I need to respond to it before the day is out.”

He got up and without so much as a nod of thanks to his younger colleague, walked out of the coffee shop.

One of his partners had been watching the interaction from the other side of the coffee shop and walked over to the younger colleague.

“He seems pretty angry about something”, he observed, “Is everything ok?”

Feeling a little uncomfortable about revealing something shared in confidence but not wanted to anger the partner now seated across the table from him, he shrugged and asked, “Can you keep a secret?”

“Of course”, the partner assured him.

“He’s angry because someone just sent his wife a list of the women, including clients, that he has been having affairs with for years”, said the younger lawyer, “and now he wants revenge on the person who did it.”

The younger lawyer paused for a moment before continuing.

“What I don’t understand”, he said uncertainly, “is that he is saying that what that person did was immoral and yet he doesn’t see the immorality of what he has done.”

He paused again before looking the elder partner directly in the eye.

“How is that possible?”, he asked.

The two men looked down at their coffee cups in silence for a moment before the elder lawyer pulled out his mobile phone and texted to a colleague.

I have a secret that we can use to finally get rid of you-know-who.

To be continued.

© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved


While some things have been altered here to present a coherent story, the basic facts of the story are true.

In my world of Wall St., I have always been fascinated with the duality of morality, the notion that what I do is “always proper, ethical and moral” while the other guy who is doing the same thing suffers from a serious deficiency of ethics, morals and practically anything else.

There is also the point of how some people leverage the immorality of others for their own gain (and some people specialize in this technique).  Is that any better than the original immoral act?  I don’t think so.

The ego, when motivated by the wrong things and a twisted sense of perspective, can produce some interesting results and how the results are perceived by different people.

Ah the concept of duality.

I spoke to a farmer last week who was all wound up about what we are doing to our environment (including our food supply) in the name of money and how we all needed to do something about it.  I agreed totally and then asked the farmer if he used Round-Up ready seed from Monsanto and he indicated that he did.

I asked him why he would use such a product when it has been demonstrated that Round-Up, one of the most poisonous chemicals known to man, is now turning up in our food and water supply, especially when he was so fired up about what we are doing to our environment.

“Could this be a variant of greed?”, I asked.

“This is different”, he replied, “this is all about maximizing yield quantity and quality.  That has nothing to do with greed.”

“Possibly”, I replied, “but if you are maximizing your yield quantity and quality, is this not all about maximizing profit?”

“Of course it is”, replied the farmer.

“As a businessman, I have nothing against maximizing profit”, I observed, “but could it be said that this is a variant of greed when we know that we may be sacrificing the health of others in order to achieve a maximized profit?”

The farmer was silent.

“What I would recommend”, I said, “is that you need to remove the duality from your Life.  You can either focus on maximizing profit using the products you are using, not care about the impact of the health of others and stop complaining that people need to stop contaminating the environment or you can start making the difference on your own farm that you so passionately believe is needed and thus be the change you want to see in others.  You cannot live both sides of duality.”

“That makes me a hypocrite, doesn't it?”, asked the farmer.

“Not necessarily”, I replied, “although the duality you are trying to live doesn’t work at all and eventually you will be called out on it or you will drive yourself crazy.”

The conversation ended without a stated purpose on the farmer’s part.

I suspect that profit will win in the case of this farmer – it is the preferred path of most people in the world today.

As a businessman, I understand the importance of profit.

However, the duality within our lives, whether in how we generate a profit or how we live our lives in general, often leads to complexities in our Lives as the things we desire, the things we demand of others and the things we do run into conflict with each other (often at the sacrifice of someone else).

Do you have unresolved dualities?

What do they say about you?

What are they doing to you?

Should you do something about them?

Why or why not?

How do you know?

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

Addendum – Duality Examples – August 12, 2015

I rarely post addendums to #1206 blogs but I had an interesting event occur today that illustrates dualities perfectly.

Someone who taught me in theology some years ago posted a photo today of a naked man standing in water and made an observation that if we had more of this type of thing, we could get more women interested in fishing.

It might have been amusing had it not been for the fact that this person, a woman, is highly sensitive regarding pictures and comments that men post about women, especially when it looks like the man is objectivizing the woman.

Recognizing the duality of “do as I say and not as I do”, I politely asked what she would do if I had posted a similar photo of a woman.  After she made her point (poorly) that she is proving what women have to go through, she disconnected me from her social media account before I could reply.

It brings to mind this duality variant.

When people call us on something, we can either observe the following (with context specific information included from this event):

  1. If we teach or have taught theology (including application of morality and ethics behavior), we don't post pictures of naked men to make "a fun point".
  2. If we are offended by men who objectivize women when they post pictures of naked women "for fun", we don't post pictures of naked men in return.
  3. We don’t "make a point" by performing the same act as the person who affronts us (two wrongs never make anything right).
  4. If we don't see the inconsistency of what we do versus what we demand (or what we teach), we should remember that Life teaches us to:

a. Understand dissenting / questioning opinion when expressed respectfully.
b. Discuss differences of opinion maturely.
c. Entertain dialog in give and take without getting emotional.

OR ... we can do this:

  1. Make a point and then immediately unfriend / block the other person before our action can be explored or questioned (thankfully we got the last word in before disconnecting from them).

JR once said:

The more social media we have, the more we think we're connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other.

They say that social media keeps us connected but I think it is providing us with new ways of forgetting how to connect with each other in respectful, mature ways that matter, creating many opportunities for new dualities to be created in our lives.

I also think social media creates many opportunities for us to be inconsistent, with our dualities in plain sight for all to see (even if we are blind to them).

It doesn’t create the dualities themselves but merely reveals them.

The only issue is that when we get caught in our dualities, it is not the other person’s fault and so we shouldn’t be angry with them.

The fault is our own and so we should accept blame and responsibility accordingly.

What do you think?

If you don’t agree with me, don’t bother emailing me – I’ve already disconnected from you in a proactive, pre-emptive fashion. Smile

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