Question by Rudolph Bush
If we are living our faiths, they inform both our public and our private lives. And if we are living them well, our public and our private expressions will be in harmony. It can be difficult, though, to express our concerns about the world around us without seeming intolerant or close-minded or prudish.
This week, for example, a massive pornography convention lands in Dallas. In many of our faith traditions, the celebration of the body over the soul is a cause for concern. The primacy of sexuality – and the use of others sexuality for entertainment – is worrisome.
But it can be difficult to express this worry in a public forum. How can we be moral without being moralizing? And is our own morality relative? Are we just imposing our own standards on others? Or are we expressing something universal and true?
AMY MARTIN, writer/editor Moonlady Media and president emeritus, Earth Rhythms
Many conventions are fraught with moral, even murderous, concerns. Conventions for gemstones and fine jewelry raise the deadly “blood diamond” issue in Africa. Those for agribusiness skirt the cancer legacy of many farm chemicals, just as oil and gas conventions dismiss the cancer spikes from water tainted by fracking. The ethical issues of gun and mercenary conventions are many.
As a Texas Faith panel member once posited: Why do moral outrages always seem to involve private behavior and not social concerns? Even though the activities of some industries and practices result in a shocking amount of illness and death, most media and elected officials refuse to acknowledge the moral depravity involved. Sex trafficking may have serious issues, but widespread death in the name of huge profits isn’t one of them.
Taoism would counsel that excessive pornography and sex show a life out of balance, and that greed and excessive gratification are the same action. Such individuals are out of step with Teh, not mindful of Tao. They fear death, which compels them to seek sensation and aquisition. They do not connect to nature, making it more difficult to connect to community.
Perhaps the true moral quandary is the convention center complex itself. According to D Magazine, it has run $37 million in the red annually for three years. Now officials at the center are asking for $250 million more. The associated Omni Hotel cost $500 million and loses $53 million each year. That debt hole prevents funding things like public art, performing arts, urban parks, and nimble transit system that attract convention traffic while benefiting citizens, plus the infrastructure that keeps it all running. Taoism teaches: nurture the root and everyone is enriched.