David Brooks on Mundane Morality

We had our car in the shop a few weeks ago to fix a defective part.  When I returned to pay for it, I was told that I could save about $600 by having the manufacturer pay for the part.  It was under warranty and I would only need to pay cost of labor.  The person behind the desk said, “I only need to edit the mileage on your car by a few thousand miles.  Are you okay with that?”

I said that while I’d much rather avoid paying $600, I was not okay with that.

This episode became the topic of a great discussion at the dinner table that evening with the kids about having a clean conscience and the seemingly insignificant issues that shape us morally.

It seems to me that we rarely encounter the big moral dilemmas that are so obviously clear cut.  Our days are filled, rather, with mundane moral decisions where the stakes appear so low that we give ourselves permission to cheat a little.

Check out David Brooks’s brilliant column in today’s NYT on just this topic.

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