Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Talking about ethics...

Now that my major project is complete, I am treating myself to a bit of fiction. I started off with absolute pulp and have still not taken on anything particularly challenging. Or so I thought.

The book I am currently reading - My Sister's Keeper - has been made into a movie, so my sons recognised the title. They asked me what it was about, and this was when the fun began.

Because it's about a girl suing her parents for medical emancipation. A girl who was conceived to provide her leukemic elder sister with a matching donor. When the book opens, the elder sister has begun to experience kidney failure and wheels have been set in motion to give her one of her younger sister's kidneys.

But no-one ever asked her.

From the start of her life, she has been seen as the source of everything her sister needs, and she has never had a say in it. If she refuses to give her sister a kidney, the sister will die.

So now we have conversations about ethics and human rights and duties and responsibilities and all that stuff in our house.

It isn't easy, but I highly recommend it. The conversation is stimulating. My kids are being forced to think long and hard, and to frame their arguments cogently. For them, it's black and white. So I have been playing devil's advocate - "What if...", "What about..."

It makes a change from results-oriented thinking where only one answer is correct, and I believe it's done them the world of good. Perhaps they should debate this kind of thing in their 'learning to learn' sessions at school!


V Yonkers said...

We had a similar conversation recently spurred on by the new movie "the box". I was actually surprised at my children's point of view and I've decided that despite 9 and 12 years of Catholic education, we still have a lot to discuss when it comes to ethical decisions!

The upsycho said...

Hmm. I've not heard of that one. I'll have to look into it!

V Yonkers said...

The premise of the movie, as I understand it, is that a couple, who are down on their luck,about to be evicted, penniless, are given the opportunity to take a "box" which will give them a million dollars. However, if they accept the box, someone in the world will die.

Nayana Karia said...

No one thought of asking her. Even if they did ask her, would it have been much of a choice? Is real empowerment the power to choose? How many of us can have that if it is at the cost of loved ones?

Great post Karyn, thanks.

The upsycho said...

@Nayana I recommend you read the book - your arguments all feature in the court hearing. The ending is atrociously pat, but the rest of it makes for thought provoking reading.

Nayana Karia said...

There is another similar discussion of these moral/ethical issues in Richard Dawkins book, The God Delusion.