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Chapter VI


I believe I have never heard the world "morality" said in connection with global warming. Nor have I heard the words happiness, enjoyment, satisfaction or love.

Morality distinguishes right from wrong, good from bad, caring from not caring. However, morality does not just happen, especially in a socity freighted with baggage that is carried by those without "advantages."

The words that best encompass the spirit and letter of morality are empathy and reciprocity. Reciprocity in turn is a core value in every religion and is most often expressed as the golden rule. Its fundamental importance deserves a longer quote than usual, here from Wikipedia: Reciprocity.

"In social psychology, reciprocity is a social norm of responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. As a social construct, reciprocity means that in response to friendly actions, people are frequently much nicer and much more cooperative than predicted by the self-interest model; conversely, in response to hostile actions they are frequently much more nasty and even brutal.

Reciprocity makes it possible to build continuing relationships and exchanges. Fukuyama states that “If the institutions of democracy and capitalism are to work properly, they must coexist within certain premodern cultural habits that ensure their proper functioning”. He goes on to say “Law, contract, and economic rationality and prosperity…. must as well be leavened with reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust…. The latter are not anachronisms in a modern society but rather the sine qua non of the latter’s success”. According to the sociologist Alvin Gouldner (1960), this norm is nearly universal, and only a few members of society—the very young, the sick, or the old—are exempt from it.

Reciprocal actions differ from altruistic actions in that reciprocal actions only follow from others' initial actions, while altruism is the unconditional act of social gift-giving without any hope or expectation of future positive responses. Some distinguish between ideal altruism (giving with no expectation of future reward) and reciprocal altruism (giving with limited expectation or the potential for expectation of future reward)."

The choice to be moral or to act morally is a choice of the individual, and there is no more importance choice in the life of any human being. However, the choice is not made alone. As with nurture and nature determining ones behavoir, morality is determined rationalism and intuition.

Heidt in his book Righteousness gives an in depth analysis of why rationalism comes first but is closely interwoven with intuition. The choice to give rationality the upper hand in choosing morality guards against spontaneous emotional reactions that might be influenced by unfamiliar circumstaneous, misunderstanding, group pressure or group-think, etc. This definition also promotes life-long analyis of life and its stresses, opportunities and complications.

Since my becoming aware of climate change, I have become more aware of my own attitude and decisions about but also aware of others behavoir and pondered the thinking behind it.

The first of these is an image that keeps recurring whenever I think about or try to explain my thoughts about climate change aand it alway cisusts if a brightly lit portion of the earth where, however, I cannot distinguish anything but the light. Therefore, I will reproduce here one of my favorite images from my work as a photographer and one that expresses well my intense sadness at the likely loss of the light of the earth. This image, Spring Morning, 1982 was made on an entrance ramp to the Massachusetts Turnpike otherwise known as Interstate 90. The images was made in the course of over ten years photographing the Piks and many dozens of visits to this vista arriving before sunrise. My thought as I walked up the hill, having parked my car adjucent to the roadway, was "don't screw it up."

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