Taking a break from politics and policy here.
Many share the view that the arc of moral universe is long, but ultimately it bends to justice.
Perhaps, but does it bend towards morality?
I’ll return to this at the end of the post, but first some context.
I was nearly the victim of one of the most brazen scams I’ve encountered. My involvement, actually, was accidental. My 90 year-old father was the intended victim.
Dad, who lives on the East Coast, received a call from his grandson, or so he thought. That was the brazen part. The scammers actually impersonated a relative in order to scam an elderly guy. From there, it went downhill. The scammer playing my son turned the phone over to his partner, who played the role of a public defender hired to represent my son, who purportedly had been in a serious car accident and charged with a DUI while traveling to a friend’s funeral. Bail money was needed because of the flight risk. And fast. A Moneygram was the recommended vehicle.
The scammers got both unlucky and lucky at that point. My father had been conned, but was snowbound and not able at his advanced age to act, so he called me with the “public defender’s” number. Coincidentally, I’d missed a call from my son, and now had my father telling me he’d spoken to him. This scam was never supposed to reach a guy in his 50’s, but the odd circumstances had my guard way down. My own father had just told me my son was injured and in jail.
Fortunately, I recovered the presence of mind to Google the scammer. When I couldn’t find an attorney in his supposed city with that name, I called my son, who was at his desk.
I felt like an idiot, and I sort of was an idiot.
But then I got angry.
What these scammers tried to do here and what they’ve undoubtedly succeeded in doing elsewhere represents an utter lack of morals. When a drug addict steals to feed his habit, I don’t condone it, but I get it. When a person acts violently while blinded by anger, I don’t condone it, but I get it.
These guys, however, very clearly had the minds, the energy, and the interpersonal skills to make money honestly. They tried to con my father because they wanted to, not because they had to. They’re in the same category as brilliant software programmers who invest their time in ransomware schemes.
I know that only a sliver of the population is this lacking in morality. But here’s the thing: This slice of the population I believe is no smaller than it ever has been. Perhaps its larger. Which means those who are morally deficient but just not to this degree also are not shrinking in number.
Okay, back to the moral universe.
The bottom line is that arc of the universe may bend towards justice. But it bends that way because of the bending in how society addresses immorality in its midst, not because of morality itself bends in any direction over time.
So, it’s the universe that bends towards justice.
The moral universe doesn’t bend at all.