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Election 2016

My husband took the time out of his very busy schedule to write this article last night, October 21, 2016.

The third and final presidential debate between Clinton and Trump has made it easy for good Americans to know how they must vote this election.

The most basic guide to morally upright conduct is more or less universally recognized to be the Golden Rule: "Treat others the way you would wish to be treated," or, in its negative form, "Do not treat others in ways you would not want to be treated."

Helen's peonies.

This rule is found in one form or another in nearly every religion and every system of ethics.

While the Golden Rule is a simple rule, it demands of us a deliberate thoughtfulness in regard to the impact of our actions on others. In the case of the current election, however, the deliberate thoughtfulness required is minimal. Because each of us was once living within the bodies of our mothers, we can fairly easily imagine changing places with others who are not yet born. When we do so, it is easy to know how we must vote this election.

The not-yet-born are the weakest, most disadvantaged minority in all America. While no member of their group has broken any law, they nonetheless collectively live under the threat of the arbitrary imposition of the death penalty at any moment, with no trial nor any hope of appeal. They have no voice. They have no vote. They cannot speak for themselves, nor can they defend themselves.

We were all members of this group ourselves once. Our lives stretch back in an unbroken sequence from conception to the present. It is thus not difficult to imagine a time in our lives when we were just a day or two from birth. From our present vantage point, looking back, would we be happy to trade places with another not-yet-born child, also just days from birth, but scheduled for death? How would we want voters to vote, were we in the place of the many millions who will be conceived over the tenure of Supreme Court justices who will be appointed during the next four years? And if we find that there are events and experiences in our lives that we would not want to have missed for anything---from the beauty of a sunset, to the joy of human love---is it not reasonable to suppose that they, could they exchange places with us, would feel the same?

Here is a quote, not by a member of any religious sect, but by an atheist, Adam Lee.

Under the subheading, "Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you," he writes that the Golden Rule is:

"the single greatest, simplest, and most important moral axiom humanity has ever invented, one which reappears in the writings of almost every culture and religion throughout history ... Moral directives do not need to be complex or obscure to be worthwhile, and in fact, it is precisely this rule’s simplicity which makes it great. It is easy to come up with, easy to understand, and easy to apply, and these three things are the hallmarks of a strong and healthy moral system. The idea behind it is readily graspable: before performing an action which might harm another person, try to imagine yourself in their position, and consider whether you would want to be the recipient of that action. If you would not want to be in such a position, the other person probably would not either, and so you should not do it. It is the basic and fundamental human trait of empathy, the ability to vicariously experience how another is feeling, that makes this possible, and it is the principle of empathy by which we should live our lives."

A rather simple application of the Golden Rule makes it easy for good Americans to know how they must vote this election.

Gerald E. Aardsma
Loda, IL


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