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To the Editor: ‘Do whatever it takes’ poses ethical problems
Today in every sphere, we fail our young people so bad, it’s almost as if we intended to. Once, however, the ubiquity as well as the iniquity of letting the inmates run the asylum is taken into account, one sees there’s no “almost” about it: our setting them up for failure is quite deliberate.
It’s only because we insist, always and everywhere, on the lowest common denominator that we so often get it. Take President Barack Obama. (Insert your own joke here.) In a public-service announcement on the radio, meant to tackle the nation’s horrific high-school dropout problem, Obama concludes tersely:
“DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO HELP THEM MAKE IT THROUGH!” Please note, he isn’t saying, “Help in any way you can,” but rather, essentially, “Do whatever it takes to help them do whatever it takes to make it through.” Striving for urgency, he instead strikes desperation.
Worse, he appears to be endorsing unethical behavior: “whatever it takes.” No, no, no. We should just do “what” it takes, and the kids likewise–nothing more, nothing less. Let’s remember to respect anyone who wants to be able to be proud of himself when he walks across that stage, for having climbed all the way to the summit, himself.
And anyway, Mr. President, alluding to helicopter rides or other shortcuts is preaching to the choir.
From the May 5-11, 2010 issue