It may not be your fault. These days it is difficult to feel like a good person. In fact the harder you try, the more you may feel like a failure.
The calls on our moral attention are multiplying at an extraordinary rate. We are living through a perfect storm of social justice movements, activist NGOs, an unusually plausible pope, and a flood of academic moral philosophers trying to write for the public. Globalisation means that we have to take account of the furthest implications of our actions. The internet and social media spread the news of our ever increasing obligations and strike down those who sin without mercy.
Everywhere we turn there are people demanding that we take moral responsibility for ever more features of our lives. Almost everything we do turns out to be involve a moral choice, or more than one, in which the deepest principles are at stake. If you're an egalitarian, how come you help your kids with their homework? If you're against child-slavery, how come you still eat chocolate? If you're against racism, aren't you ashamed that you enjoy ‘white privileges' like not being afraid when the police pull you over? And so on. Want to put milk on your breakfast cereal? There's a moral philosopher out there who wants you to read about murdered baby cows first.
Enough! These demands would challenge the forbearance and commitment of a saint. Trying to satisfy them all would leave no room for living your own life.
But it gets worse. Although they are presented as moral challenges, as tests of your moral character, many of these demands are actually moral puzzles with no right answer. Flying to Ireland to visit your sick grandmother, perhaps for the last time, is absolutely the right thing to do. But it's also absolutely the wrong thing to do. Or don't you care about the environment and justice for future generations?
Being a good person isn't enough. You just can't win no matter how hard you try!
Our moral philosophy experts have analysed the problem. Here's what they say:
The increasing moralisation of mundane choices is strongly associated with the phenomenology of interminable inescapable guilt. The cognitive dissonance resulting from this has been shown in laboratory experiments on white middle-class American college students to reduce rather than increase levels of moral motivation and integrity (Etal et al. 2013; Reckless and Shrew 2014; Southpark series 19). It is suggested that this effect results from an overextension and personalisation of moral responsibility. Survivors of the experiments professed to believe for example that the well-being of children in Cote d'Ivoire, the biodiversity of rainforests thousands of miles away, and even the survival of future generations all somehow depended on their choices. Yet when questioned as to what that exactly meant they were unable to explain further than 'being aware'.
In plain English, If everything we do is wrong why bother even trying to do the right thing?
Fortunately the solution is at hand. Here at Moral Tranquillity plc we believe that good people should be able to live a life free from guilt. That is why we have developed a range of Moral Offsetting™ products that make meeting your moral responsibilities simple and affordable.
The Standard Consumer Ethics Package
For only $19.99 per month we will scan every purchase you make according to its GoodGuide rating and a Personal Moral Code™ generated from your ethical preferences. Whenever you purchase something that is unethical according to your values we will automatically make a donation of 2% of the purchase price (or other figure selected by you) from your bank account to a charity selected by GiveWell as the most efficient way to benefit humanity.
Our sophisticated technological solution allows us to guarantee that the good that will be purchased on your behalf will always exceed the bad that could be traced back to you.
Add-ons - available for an extra $5 per month:
Instead of all your Moral Offsets coming from helping humanity in general, they will be tailored to the underlying bad. For example, carbon offsets will automatically be purchased for your long-distance flights; donations to children's charities in Cote D'Ivoire will be made in your name whenever you buy chocolate, and to animal welfare charities every time you can't resist a hamburger.
*Moral Preferences Presets
If you do not wish to design your own Personal Moral Code™ you may choose to follow one of our Moral Leaders™. That means your consumption patterns will be assessed against the carefully selected moral standards of one of the many religious gurus, activist organisations, and untenured moral philosophy PhDs who work with us.
Want to ensure the moral integrity of your loved ones? Add them to your Moral Offsetting™ plan for just $5 each per month. Their consciences will be absolved according to the same schedule of ethical preferences you endorsed.
Moral Offsetting for your pets.
The Deluxe Full-Life Ethics Package
For just $49.99 per month we are proud to offer a concierge service that covers your whole life, not just what you buy.
How it works:
You opt for a moral doctrine. When you suspect you have done something bad, like saying something really mean to a friend of a friend at a party or firing an employee because someone in India will do his job for less, you call or email one of our trained Confessors™. The confessor determines an appropriate offset according to your professed moral doctrine and makes the relevant arrangements, such as sending flowers and a handwritten apology to the person you were mean to, or a $100 donation to a soup-kitchen in your ex-employee's neighbourhood.
This Christmas, give the gift of a blameless life to someone you love
We all have friends or relatives who could do better. Moral Offsetting™ makes an excellent gift and is available in a range of attractive colours and fonts.
The Moral Offsetting™ Guarantee
Whenever you fall short of your best intentions our service automatically ensures that you have already more than made up for it. Our Moral Offsetting™ packages provide you with all the assurance you need to feel like a good person because we guarantee to make you one.
This infomercial previously appeared on 3 Quarks Daily. It was produced for Moral Tranquillity plc, reputable traders in indulgences since 1517. As part of our own commitment to making the world a better place 10% of our profits go to providing blankets, electronic journal access and dental insurance to unemployed moral philosophy phds.