The Argument For Moral Failings

I was recently in Las Vegas, Sin City, the City of Lights,……Glitter Gulch.

I stepped into an elevator with what was clearly a mother with her attractive 20-ish year old daughter.   A few floors up three young 20-ish aged boys stepped into the elevator.  They had been drinking and you could kind of tell that they were relatively new to the drinking life.  One of them, for example, had a beer in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.  They were a little loud but mostly harmless I suppose.

Up the elevator went and the door opened on the floor that the mother and daughter had selected.  They exited the elevator and, after leering at the daughter, the two-fisted drinker waited until the elevator door started closing, leaned out and said…

“You’re doing a great job raising your daughter, ma’am…(snicker, snicker)….”

As he turned back into the elevator he was confronted with a middle aged father figure (me) staring at him in disbelief.  We had about 15 floors to go and I stared at him for the entire ride while he went back and forth between nervous giggling and contriteness.

He scurrried off the elevator first when their floor arrived followed by his two friends.

The third boy stopped as he exited and turned around.  He looked me right in the eye and said…

“Sir, I apologize for….us.”

Now you can take this story and decry the youth of America, misogyny, the evils of alcohol, or a host of other cultural shortcomings that a trip to Las Vegas will put on full display for you.

But I’m an optimist.  Boy #3 gives me reason for hope.  He didn’t owe me an apology, of course.  But I’m convinced that he recognizes that he and his friends were unnecessarily “unkind” to those ladies and it was wrong.

I hope the incident stays with him for the rest of his days as a moral failing.  Not because I want him to suffer…but because it can serve as a reference point for what is right and what is not going forward.

We all make mistakes.

At 17 I was a very popular kid in a large crowd of kids in the high school band.  One day when a bunch of us were out having fun somewhere there was some horsing around among the boys in the group and I purposely tripped a socially awkward kid that wasn’t really well accepted by the group.  He was a couple years younger than me.  He fell onto some gravel and got scraped up.  I played it off like it was no big deal.

But it was a big deal.

It was a big deal because, particularly at that age, a couple years means a lot.  That kid looked up to me as a leader in our small circle and I betrayed that trust.   I do not remember his name but I will never forget his face.

To this day that moment haunts me as a moment of moral failing.   I have made mistakes since but none that I can remember without making it right or apologizing.

I don’t need anymore nightmares.  That one keeps me honest.

Moral failings.  We all have them.  It’s what you do with them that makes all the difference.


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8 Replies to “The Argument For Moral Failings”

  1. One can only learn from a “moral failing” if they recognize that actions/choices are indeed made. Not to mention actually living by a moral code. Yet, how does one define that moral code? Too many navigate life aimlessly, carried on by their whims. #PhilosophyWhoNeedsIt – We all do, and we all live by a philosophy even if we have not taken the time to define it. Have you defined yours?

  2. For me personally, I’m not sure I have a “moral code” that I can name for you. I live in a country founded on Christian principles, and while I am not a religious man, I suppose it would be fair to say that my moral “compass” is generally based on those principles that have formed the basis of the culture here in the United States.

    I mention the country as this blog (I am pleased to say) has a mildly international audience.

    Have you defined yours, Penny?

    1. Yes. I’ve been following the philosophy of Objectivism for some time now. I use it as a tool to live my life to the best of my ability.

  3. Interesting. I was listening to some old Ayn Rand interviews recently because she had recently been referenced in a few materials I was reading. I didn’t know anything about her or her philosophy. Her ideas were interesting but the big thing I took away from the interviews is that she didn’t seem happy. Now that could be because she was speaking to skeptics….

    …or maybe she really was an unhappy person for unrelated reasons. Or maybe she was perfectly happy and I just caught a couple of her unhappy moments.

    All I know for sure is that happiness is a non-negotiable element of any philosophy that gets any consideration from me.

    1. She was constantly smeared and still is to this day… since I know her writings both fiction and nonfiction, I definitely do not see unhappiness in those interviews. Intensity yes (which I love) unhappiness, absolutely not. It has been 20 years since reading her book The Fountainhead… I can honestly say that I am a much happier person for it. Couldn’t put it down, which lead me to her other writings.

      1. Which of her books would you recommend to someone who has not read any of her work? Fountainhead? Atlas Shrugged? It looks like she was a very prolific writer….

        Glad to hear you thought she was happy!

      2. I always recommend The Fountainhead before Atlas. I read The Fountainhead, Anthem (you can find it online for free, very short read), We the Living, and then my favorite Atlas Shrugged. Moved on to her nonfiction after Atlas.

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