Moral Priorities

Posted: December 15, 2007 in Discrimination, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Hunger, Misconceptions, Morality, Stereotypes

The headlines in many, if not most, of the nations newspapers were clear: 80+ professional baseball players were named in a report as having illegally used steroids and other performance enhancing drugs to give them an edge against the competition.

Several of the newspapers had photos of what I assumed were either the best known players or what the report considers the worst offenders of steroid use. I’ll admit, it’s been a long time since I really followed the game, because I’ve had other things on my mind as of late so I didn’t really recognize any of the names or faces.  

What all of this brought to my mind is that here we have 80+ professionals who were getting paid a heck of a lot of money but who were taking performance enhancing drugs to be better than their peers, which in turn is what caused them to be paid more. Sounds like cheating to me.

As I said, I haven’t really followed the sport for some time now, so I can’t remember things like how teams there are altogether. That means I don’t really know how many professional baseball players there are. I’m guessing that the players who the report names as being guilty of using steroids are only a fraction of the over all number of players.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if because of these athletes, people automatically assumed that all professional athletes also cheated? I don’t think anyone will actually think that, but you must admit it does make one wonder.

But then again who knows… We find it awful easy to assume things even when the facts say different. For example:

I’m still surprised by how many people still believe that all homeless people are drunks or drug users; or that all homeless people are lazy and don’t want to work; or that all homeless people are lazy and don’t want to work; or that all homeless people are homeless due to their own fault; and the list goes on.

The problem is that the majority of the time it’s the "bad apples" who win the headlines on the front pages of the newspaper and the lead story on the evening news. And then for some reason, we forget that those who do make the headlines are not always indicative of the whole group.

Just as I’m absolutely certain that the majority of baseball players do not use any kind of performance enhancing drugs, I’m equally as certain that not all homeless people are "lazy bums." In fact, everybody is just trying to survive the best they can.

Some folks like professional athletes are fortunate enough to be earning enough of a salary that they don’t have to be too concerned about whether they will have food in the belly or if they’ll have a place to sleep tonight.

On the other hand, many of this nations homeless are hoping that they will have food to eat and a warm place to sleep tonight. Some of the homeless will be fortunate enough to go to work today. Some will have to recycle. And yes, some of them will even be out panhandling just to put a few bucks in their pocket.

Just because some of the homeless who recycle or panhandle are indeed drug users or drunks doesn’t mean that all homeless are so anymore than because some professional athletes use performance enhancing drugs means that all pro athletes do so.

What seems strange to me is that somehow or another we’ll find ourselves forgiving the pro athletes their shortcomings, but we won’t forgive the homeless theirs.

But then again it’s probably because we look up to our athletes and while at the same time we look down on the homeless.

It certainly makes me wonder what our moral priorities are.

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