When the Twitter owner and Tesla CEO wrongly labeled NPR as “state-affiliated media,” NPR fought back in a powerful way, but it’s only a start. What, asks Center strategic advisor Brad Berens, needs to happen next?
Money has no morals. Money erodes morals because it washes away context and specificity in favor of interchangeability. Think about the differences among giving a friend a birthday gift that is…
1. An exchangeable thing from a local store
2. A gift card from a local store
3. Something from Amazon with a gift receipt
4. An Amazon gift card
5. Cash, a check, a gift card from VISA or MasterCard.
The first two options pull double duty: they convey to your friend that you remembered the birthday and also invest in your community because they support a local store. You’re also saying to your friend, “hey, if you don’t already know this local store you should wander in because there’s a lot of cool stuff in there, and I know you well enough to think that you’ll dig it.”
In contrast, while the last three options are still kind, they lack the additional dimensions of investing in your community and testing your knowledge of your friend’s taste in a way that says, “I see you.” These options neither create nor exploit context. Instead, they put a small, generalized burst of economic power into the world: “go buy yourself something special.” The paradox of that gesture is that specialness comes from the intimacy of the gift from a friend—the context that cash lacks.
The difference between the words moral and immoral are contextual, geographic: they depend on where you stand.
Generally, you only accuse other people of immorality. You would only call yourself immoral if you broke your own code. “I’m a vegetarian who just ate a steak: that was immoral.” Even then, you’d probably only call that particular act immoral rather than condemn your entire being because, as Stephen Covey observed, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.”
If you have typical, mid-twentieth century values around gender roles and relationships, then you might think that sex before marriage is immoral. On the other hand, if you have feminist views about those typical gender roles, then you might think the roles themselves are immoral. Context matters with morality.
Amorality is different. If you are amoral, then you are not interested in context. Everything is the same to an amoral person except what makes them feel good in the moment or advantages them in the near term.
It is therefore no surprise that one of the richest individuals on the planet, Twitter-owner Elon Musk, is amoral. Having that much money has pulled him away from any grounding context. (more)