Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Moral and Ethical Question

I'm in Dallas for the next few days. I'm staying with a person who is my superior, and we have a witness in town. We ate dinner last night, and their conversation was full of rampant wickedness.

What's my responsibility? If I'm at dinner hearing ribald humor, what do I do?

Frankly, it's a perplexing situation for me. I didn't participate, but I didn't denounce either. Well, I did at one point in a passive-agressive way

What am I supposed to do? Am I to just disengage, or am I to actively denounce, or something else?

4 comments:

Hippie Fringe said...

I am not sure there is a "right" answer to your question. I have been in that situation and reacted both ways. In reflection, I have felt that I was condescending and hypocritical in one reaction and spineless and malleable in another; both counterproductive and tell tell signs of a greater internal problem. I am sure that if you simply shine and love them, your actions will be appropriate.

Hal Brunson said...

That's quite delicate, as you are with your superior who, I suppose, has power to fire you.

If your relationship with him is such that you can speak to him in a private setting about your feelings, that's one option, but do it with humility. He won't stop, of course, but you could tell him that you'd like to be excused from non-requisite social settings if that is going to be their tenor.

If you can just say "no thanks" to the dinners, etc., that's another option.

You could also address the issue in terms of professionalism, "I think that your conversation was unprofessional, as well as distasteful, unethical, and offensive."

If you just grin and bear it, you'll be miserable.

What a pity that our culture is so vulgarized and that evidence of reprobation so abundantly flourishes.

Shane said...

Thank you both. I'm encouraged that you agree that it's not a simple situation.

At the end of the night I was regretting not being a Luther. But looking back, I did manage to be a quiet witness. When I became an attorney, I made a decision early on that regardless of who I was eating with I would take thirty seconds or so and pray over my meal. That silent, little prayer is a great governor for me. It informs the table I'm a Christian. If I engage in blatantly sinful conversation after that then I've confirmed the majority's belief of evangelical fakery.

I also try to work my wife into conversations when possible.

So, within a standard business dinner my companion has seen me pray and heard me talk favorably about my wife.

That's the extent of my pushback against wicked dinner conversation. If it's just me and one other person, my methodology is great because prurient type comments wither on the vine. But when I'm one among three I lose the control.

Bah, I'm rambling now.

Thanks again, both for the encouragement and the suggestions.

Jacob G├╝cker said...

Men of the world will often make a game of your moral excellence, and I have fallen for it many times, not realizing what they were doing.

There's a young man at my job who is a brawler. He cherishes the opportunity to fight, and he is constantly talking about how he will punch someone who "disrespects him." Moreover, he keeps asking me if I will fight someone who does the same with me, and I tell him, of course, that I don't ever want to hit anyone. He said to me, "you have to have some morality" and I told him very plainly that we did not share the same ideas about morality. He has gone as far as to say that if he ever sees anyone "disrespect" me and I do not hit him, he will come hit me himself. Incidentally, he informed me that the name of his church is "Golden Rule," and I did my best to point out the irony, and make a lesson of it, but he didn't follow.