A Moral Question Triggered By A Simple Sign

11-02-2013sign 002

I am, at heart, a summer person.  Because of serious spine issues, snow activities are not possible for me.  So, when the “closed” placard is added to the Cottonwood Pass sign every Fall due to accumulating snowpack, I get a little depressed.  Cottonwood Pass is one of our favorite drives.  We love taking the Jeep over the pass and exploring what lies on the other side – the Taylor Park Reservoir area and many back country roads and trails.  It’s a passion for us.

If I had my way, it would be summer and fall all of the time!  But if I did get my way, it would be disadvantageous for all the winter people and their outdoor passions.  It would also be disadvantageous for everyone, for we desperately need the snowpack that accumulates in the mountains in the winter months that provides water for millions, even for those far beyond Colorado.  Having things my way all of the time is not an option.

We live in a world that is increasingly polarized, where a lot of people are trying to get their way and some even desperately so – especially the most powerful!    It occurred to me when I saw the “closed” placard on the Cottonwood Pass  sign, it reminded me of an important moral question I must repeatedly ask myself:  “How do my preferences and choices affect other people?”   We live in community and, whether we acknowledge it or not, are interdependent.  The choices we make have implications that affect the wider community .

There is an election this week, and we are voting on some important tax issues in Colorado that affect public education.    How will my preference on the issue, if it goes my way, impact the quality of public education in Colorado?   Have I educated myself enough about it to even know, or will I vote strictly out of self-oriented mindset?

The are many other issues out there that are dividing our communities and nation.  As I embrace each issue I must ask, How would my preference, if I got  my way, affect others? “  Something that may be advantageous for me very well could be to the disadvantage of others, especially for the more vulnerable people of our communities.   Might I even be willing to vote against my own preference if I was aware that my preference  would negatively affect others who are at greater risk than myself?

I sometimes am amazed at how my mind works when a simple sign can send me off on such a philosophical excursion.  Oh well, so be it.  For the next six months, I will daily drive pass the “closed” placard fastened to the Cottonwood Pass sign and look forward to next June when the “open” placard will reappear.  But what picks me up is the knowledge that the reason for it being closed presents all sorts of wonderful possibilities for others.  Maybe if we all took more time to consider how our preferences and choices, on almost anything, would affect others if we got our way all of the time, it might be a more harmonious and less troubled world.

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