2 Responses to Identifying better alternatives (Moral engagement, part 5)

  1. Tom Zajc says:

    Bacevich has certainly made a correct assumption when it comes to how we as Americans respond to wars. When John F Kennedy assumed office, he surrounded himself with some of the smartest men in the United States, calling them the “Best and the Brightest.” These words were eventually used by Kennedy to describe the people of America and the country itself. This notion that we are the best people in the world, that we as Americans are exceptional allows us to ignore the actions that are committed by our government. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq were never declared wars, they were merely means to and end, for America to show everyone that we are the best and that no one should question us. Shows such as those of Rush Limbaugh, and various anchors or guests on the news declare that those who don’t support the war are un-American, un patriotic, and are the equivalent of terrorists.

    Those who don’t support the war are certainly un-American, but not in the way that people say they are. They are un-American in the sense that they refuse to ignore the actions of their government, they are not going to ignore their governments actions and blindly believe in the moral superiority. Rather I feel it is our duty as citizens that we protect those around us from believing in the moral superiority of the government, and they have to realize that just because the government says that one action is our duty, we do not have to follow it. Rather it is in our own interests and the interest of other citizens that they do not get caught up in the game of playing soldier and Heroes and Villains, because they don’t realize that the suffering is real, the violence is real, and that other parts of life are more vital than war.

  2. Jessica Petritis says:

    I do think that the implications of moral engagement versus moral disengagement are very important. I do also, however, think we can extend the theories of moral disengagement to issues outside of physical violence. Many people who commit abuse do not view themselves as being abusive. I think we can also extend this to realms beyond just child physical abuse. Although the rates of African-American child maltreatment are higher than the corresponding rates of Caucasian child maltreatment, in many of these statistics African-Americans are being over represented and the rates are inflated due to factors such as rater bias. What I wish to discuss are other forms of child maltreatment, such as neglect or psychological abuse. In Family Violence in a Cultural Perspective by Malley-Morrison and Hines, certain studies are highlighted. “Black mothers and child welfare workers were asked to judge the potential harm to a six-year-old girl of physical neglect (e.g., not feeding the child for a day), emotional neglect (e.g., not hugging or kissing the child when she’s upset), inadequate parental judgment (e.g., leaving the child home alone after dark), sexual orientation (i.e. a parent being gay or lesbian) and exposure to injurious parental behavior (e.g., a parent becoming drunk or high while taking care of the child alone). Black mothers rated these behaviors as more injurious than the child welfare workers did,” (page 101). I would go as far to say that these black mothers are more morally engaged than the welfare workers. I like to think of moral engagement not just as choosing nonviolence, but also just being more aware of the consequences of your actions on others in general. Many people believe that hitting a child is abuse, but then just stop there and don’t consider that there are many other behaviors that are abusive and so they continue to practice these behaviors. I believe that we can extend this notion of moral disengagement beyond just the use of physical violence to harmful behaviors in general (whether they are physically harmful or emotionally harmful.) In some cases identifying the alternatives to neglectful actions may be harder than identifying the alternatives to physical violence because people causing emotional harm to their children might not even be aware of the serious negative effects of their actions.

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