John Livingston

What’s Right is Right

After taking a required theological ethics course in college, I was impressed with the complexities that had been introduced into our thinking by academicians, ethicists and theologians, and even legal scholars about issues of right and wrong that almost always are simple to resolve in our own hearts and minds. We are guided by both reason and revelation when we are faced with issues no matter how complex they may be. I have made my own share of bad choices as I am sure many of us have. I took my ethics course during the late 60’s at the time of great unrest in our country. Traditional values were being challenged and the sexual revolution was in full swing. I unfortunately took advantage of the “moral laissez faire” that existed on college campuses, using the ethical tools that had been taught to me by my professors to justify my behavior. Today I believe those ideas that blurred moral accountability and responsibility made life more difficult for me instead of easier. Today I see a blurring of the lines of responsibility and accountability in government and business and even in my church.

The terms REMOTE MATERIAL RESPONSIBILITY and FORMAL MATERIAL RESPONSIBILITY were introduced to me in my college ethics course, and I see them being used today to justify behavior that any person of conscience knows to be wrong. The terms “immediate and implicit” have also been used to justify immoral behavior by the very people who are supposed to be our leaders and examples.

Twenty years ago, at a Catholic Hospital in Idaho the administrator was presented with the ethical issue of the hospital investing in an off-campus clinic that performed abortions or if giving clinical privileges to physicians who did abortions was ethical. At the time, the CEO of the hospital—a Catholic Sister, denied both opportunities to increase “market share”. A few years later a new administrator hired an “ethicist” to help “discern opportunities as we move forward in a changing world”. One of the opinions given to the hospital and medical staff invoked the idea of Remote Material Cooperation. The opinion—and I paraphrase from memory that when the object of the cooperation remains distinguishable from that of the wrong doers, material cooperation is mediate and is morally licit! This principle gives people the opportunity to try to discern the extent to which they can be involved with “an immoral agent or act”.

Many of our civic leaders and captains of industry have become experts when practicing immoral acts of formal cooperation. We individually or as a people cannot formerly cooperate in a morally wrong activity, no matter what ethical or legal tool we use to justify our behavior. Captains of industry who contribute millions of dollars to “woke causes” like Black Lives Matter (BLM) and then participate in the exploitation of children with countries who don’t share our values of religious freedom and individual liberty are absolutely able to distinguish between their own obligation to their side of a transaction and the activity on the other side of the transaction that is morally wrong. Many times, their customers can do the same.

Slavery has been practiced for the entire 15,000-year history of modern man. It has always been and will be forever morally wrong. The Christian Church has been at the forefront both in our country and in Europe in the fight against indenture-hood and slavery. The Church Fathers of today should be speaking out against all forms of slavery that exist today on every continent. The sex trafficking in our country, chattel slavery in Africa and the Far East are just as evil and just as real today as they were in our country for almost 250 years. Their excuse—”Prudence requires an estimation of the intention, duress, necessity, distance, and gravity of the immoral act”

Are you kidding me? You’d have to go to college to produce such an excuse. They call it “implicit formal cooperation”

I have often felt from my vantage point in history that the financiers in New York and Philadelphia and the shipbuilders in New England who built the ships that carried enslaved human beings from Africa to the West Indies and then to America, were just as complicit in the practice of slavery as the slave owners of the south. By applying the principle of “Immediate Material Cooperation” they could justify their actions. What about companies like Nike, Starbucks, Boeing, large Banks, and financial institutions that do a large part of their business with China and Saudi Arabia? They seem to have become experts in applying the principles of modern-day ethics like “Immediate and Remote Material Cooperation”. These activities are considered legal. Ethics exist not only to inform an individual moral code, but also to inform society about precisely these types of practices.

One other place where REMOTE MATERIAL COOPERATION comes into play is in the symbiotic relationship between politicians and special interests. When a politician supports a piece of legislation or goes to an event like The Governor’s Cup and has their fees paid by a lobbyist, are they representing the voters in their district or are they benefiting themselves with largess and campaign contributions. “Service before self” or “Remote Material Cooperation”. Remember what the ethicist says—”when the object of the cooperation remains distinguishable from the wrongdoing…” Many of the people both in the bureaucracy of Idaho government and in our legislature are outstanding human beings who have lived in the current state of corruption for so long that they don’t even see themselves as being at the center of our problems. Large hospital conglomerates exerting influence over the government agencies that are charged with regulating them and are at the same time responsible for distributing transfer payments that account for over 50% of revenues, is such an example. The teachers’ unions and professional educators usurping authority over parents and taxpayers by contributing to campaigns of politicians who are supposed to be representing parents and citizens who they should ultimately be accountable to, is another example.

You don’t need to go to college and take an ethics course to know what is right and wrong. The Ten Commandments, The Beatitudes, the life, and teachings of Jesus all inform us about how we should control our actions toward each other and how we should conduct our lives. All these other man-made constructs are just excuses about how not to act. As the Great Man said “Alibies destroy character”.

The issues facing Idahoans in the primary election are beyond ideas of political philosophy and legislation. They are about indolent cronyism and corruption in our State. If these aren’t addressed soon it doesn’t matter what legislation is passed as the “deep state” and “swamp” will be so ingrained that special interests and not citizens will control all of government. This is what DJT understood about Washington. We need to elect people who aren’t “swamp rats” and who will not be afraid of standing up to lobbyists and commissars in government.

MIGA “Fight Like Hell” “Let’s Go Brandon”

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