Wouldn’t it be great if we all agreed, especially when it came to big issues like the environment, animal welfare and religion?
Big issues require brave questions
But we don’t. And no matter how effectively we debate and no matter what information we share, we never will.
Personally, I don’t mind the occasional ferocious debate, but I understand that when it comes to the big issues it will always be easier to move forward when there is general agreement.
But, as I say, this will never happen and I am increasingly of the view that we need to accept this – shifting our focus from the answers to the questions.
Take the environment, for example. There has been a lot of debate about climate change and whether we should be taking action today to avert issues in the future. This debate has largely centred on whether climate change is real and if human beings are contributing to whatever global warming is occurring.
For the record, I am with the climate scientists, the experts, on this one. I can't see how I have any choice, since only they have the expertise and the information to know. The rest of us are just pontificating, guessing or hoping.
All that aside, for me the critical question here is: morally, do we have the right not to accept the evidence of the scientists, and at the very least take out the insurance needed to protect the planet for our children and grandchildren?
Asking the big moral question is more important than the answer, given that we all have a moral code and levels of intellect. If people ask themselves the moral question, and consider all of the evidence, they are entitled to come to whatever conclusion their conscience and intellect delivers.
All we can ever reasonably ask of anyone is that they ask the moral question, consider the facts and apply their conscience and intellect.
Animal rights might be considered in the same way.
I have looked at the evidence regarding live animal exports and take the view, based on the application of my conscience and intellect, that while it is an economically sound business, it's not a morally sound one.
That said, all I would ask, and I think society should ask is: Is it a morally sound practise to export live animals from Australia to other countries?
While I have concluded no, I understand and willingly accept that many people will say yes. I appreciate that not only is this their right, but it's their responsibility, having asked the question to apply their conscience and intellect, such as they are to come to the conclusion that makes the most sense to them
The crime would be not asking the question, or not applying the best possible conscience and intellect to answering it.
I view the concept of God as bizarre. I have never been able to find any foundation what so ever for any religious belief. That said, I appreciate that some people have faith, some want faith and some need faith.
The question that needs to be asked in regard to religion is: is it moral to believe that one religion is more correct than any other, or that one group with faith have any more reason to be correct than any other?
I would go further and suggest that we all need to ask: is there anything moral about faith? I would answer an emphatic no, but recognise that many others would argue an equally emphatic yes.
My points her are two-fold. Firstly, when it comes to the big questions in life, we do not have a responsibility to agree and should not agree; but we do have a responsibility to ask the question, and then apply conscience and intellect to the best of our ability to come up with an answer.
My second point is this, moral questions are the most important questions and should be answered before all others.
We may well be able to make money killing people, but we would not do it because it is immoral. Given that we all have an individual conscience, we will often come up with different answers, but we need to ask the question and answer it sincerely.