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December 01, 2004

Choices and Values and Priorities (UPDATED) « Rhetorical Questions »

Yesterday, I nearly told someone that if they found a cure for AIDS, my opinion of homosexuality would probably change somewhat.

I didn’t say anything, though, because I needed time to consider the ramifications of that idea.

You see, I realize that the HIV/AIDS issue is only tangentially connected to homosexuality. On the one hand, HIV/AIDS afflicts a wider population than just homosexuals, even in the United States. On the other hand, female homosexuals don’t really face a significant threat from HIV/AIDS.

But this morning I had a flash of insight that helped me understand my own reaction to the impact of a cure for AIDS.

It was related to the previous post on judgment. Before, I might have said I question the judgment of someone who would consider sexual intercourse important enough to risk their own health and life, and even more importantly, consider their own sexual satisfaction more important than their partner’s health and life. But with the idea that it really is foolish and unfair to question someone’s judgment, I had to try to understand it a different way.

If you have been reading me for very long, you’ve probably encountered some of my feelings about “Choice”. Remember, to me, “Choice” means “opportunity”, not “control”. And one other thing I believe but perhaps haven’t articulated: you can determine someone’s priorities by the choices and decisions they make. A corollary to that is you can determine someone’s priorities by the sacrifices they make. In other words, very few goals are impossible if you are willing to make the sacrifices to achieve those goals.

And so, if you turn this around to the original question, what does it say about a person’s priorities and values if they are willing die or kill for the sake of a certain type of sexual satisfaction? What does it say about the priorities and values of a person who, faced with an urge that is condemned by society and tradition, seeks to change society and tradition rather than change their own urge? What does it say about someone who places their own romantic desires above the needs and/or well-being of every other person in the nation? Are we, as a society, making a mistake by showing tacit (and not-so-tacit) approval for the immaturity of Romeo and Juliet (and Tony and Maria)?*

I’m not going to get into my own answers to these questions right now, and I don’t expect you to, either. In fact, I’m closing comments on this thread. I would like you to consider the questions for yourself, and most importantly, what this philosophical approach might mean in your life, regardless of your sexual orientation, because while the issue is coached in sexuality, the idea that your values are clearly demonstrated by what you choose, what you sacrifice, and what you risk applies to every aspect of your life. If you have something to say, you can email me at the address found in the sidebar about 3 inches above the little guy with wings. I’ll respond to civil comments and questions.**

Choices, values, and priorities, indeed.

*I’ve got lots more to say about love and romantic love and how we’ve screwed it up as a society. I’ll say it in a later post, probably tomorrow.

**AFTER I return home, sorry. Can't access "Yahoo" from work.

Posted by Nathan at 08:28 AM