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Work hard, pray harder column: Returning to right and wrong

Sarah Yacoub

Sarah Yacoub is an attorney at Equal Justice Inc. 

Maybe it's just me, but it increasingly feels like, as a society, we are slipping into moral relativistic hell. Right and wrong seem more like a function of whether it hurts the side with which we self-identify than truth and morality.

How often do we see it in sports where the judgement calls of the officials are good, bad, right or wrong depending on whether it hurts or helps our team? If the phenomena were limited to sports, it teaches our children lessons in bias and presents the risk that they grow up and apply the same moral relativism to other areas of life. We've now gotten to a point where moral relativism is deeply entrenched in partisan politics and how we talk about current events.

For three examples of historical events that should transcend partisan politics and moral relativism, check out Season 2 of "Making a Murderer" (available on Netflix), the movie "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" and the A&E series "The Clinton Affair."

Season 2 of "Making a Murderer" tells the story of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, meticulously breaking down eye opening, tragic and embarrassing injustices within the Wisconsin justice system. (Season 1 is interesting but is not needed to appreciate Season 2 and lacks the methodically pointed analysis that we so powerfully see depicted in Season 2.) The miscarriages of justice are so profound that they leave partisan politics in the rear view mirror: the partisan affiliation of the parties doesn't make one lick of difference in the conversation of right, wrong of what happened, how and why.

It's an example of a situation where we can talk about what happened and form opinions about what should happen separate and apart from partisan politics.

Belittling, denying or mocking Benghazi and or the fallout provokes a sense of hypocrisy and double standards. The unofficial American consulate was a sitting duck in what was known at the time to be one of the most dangerous places on the planet. It was not up to security standards for a diplomatic compound and those present during the 2012 attack did not receive the support they needed. The emails mattered because presumably the Executive Branch was getting advice from military leadership. Who was warned of what matters when dealing with what could and should have been a crisis averted. Because emails were purged, we'll never be able to pinpoint the breakdown in judgment. Because they were purged, we're left with little more than the option of sweeping it under the rug as water under the bridge. "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" tells the story of what happened in a way that helps viewers ask questions about what happened and why based on the reality of the attack rather than the partisanship of perspectives.

The beauty of "The Clinton Affair" is that it takes a raw, objective look at everyone involved such that very few walked away looking good. The miniseries tells the story of abuses of power, lies, illegal activity and using others to advance one's own political agenda or career. Like 13 Hours, it provides an opportunity to examine right and wrong based on the reality of what happened rather than opinions formed based on partisan spin.

As a society, it seems imperative now more than ever that we need to be able to evaluate right and wrong based on truth and morality versus that which empowers the team with which we identify or preserves the political ambitions of any one person within that team. How many fought and died in the formation of our country so that we could be a nation greater than any one individual under the glory of God? Why then are we so tolerant of those feeding us moral relativism in furtherance of creating unaccountable kings and queens? Wasn't the whole point of the formation of our great nation to be better than that?

Elected officials lying to the American public should matter and have consequences. Driving impaired in the middle of the day, with a hit and run collision and evasion of law enforcement should matter and have consequences. Those entrusted with the power of enforcing border laws not fulfilling the responsibilities of that privilege such that a child dies a death that was very much avoidable should matter and have consequences. Lying is wrong. Driving impaired and getting a pass where others who are not a judge would be expected to be arrested and charged is wrong. Allowing a child to die of dehydration after eight hours of having her in their care is wrong.

Take the partisan politics out of the equation and most people can find common ground in their moral compass, that which we teach our children about right and wrong. Only when we stop using the sins of the other to justify those of our "team" can we begin to take steps out of morally relativistic hell. Only when we stop insulating the wrongfulness of those on our "team" can we return to embodying the American values for which we are so rightfully proud.

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