I spent my weekend in Cynthiana, Kentucky, a small town of 7,000 people located northeast of Lexington, Kentucky. As I spent time with the people of that town I realized how different, or rather, how similar those in the Blue Grass state are to mid-western Cheese Heads. While they may not wear unusual edible objects on their heads, the residents of this region of Kentucky are unbelievably loyal to their Kentucky Wildcat football team, which, not to be rude, is not that great. I’m reminded of the loyalty of the Cheese Heads to their beloved Green Bay Packers during the 70’s and 80’s where season after losing season was met with continuous sell-out crowds.
But as I read the post on riding in the moral Ferrari, it occurred to me that while Kentuckians are morally different than Wisconsites (I’ll let you decide which one is Berkeley), and any other state in the union, for that matter, there is also great moral similarity.
As I drove from Louisville to Lexington, the speed limit was seventy m.p.h., slightly higher than my own state’s, sixty-five. And yet, there on the side of the rode were numerous people who had violated that speed limit and been pulled over by the dutiful law enforcement. Cynthiana, being a small town, has more stop signs than stop lights, one of which I ran right through without even noticing it. I chuckled as I realized that I was in the middle of nowhere with not a car in sight, but later that evening as I was riding in someone else’s car I noticed that the driver stopped at that middle of nowhere stop sign, just as we do in Wisconsin.
It’s true, all of us, from whatever state, may not fully agree on the destination of the moral red Ferrari (see Dan Kelly’s earlier post), or the speed limit, or even the road (government vs. non-government, see Connor Ewing’s earlier post), but we do agree that there must be a car, a speed limit, with rules and consequences, and a road, regardless of which one it may be. While there may be those in philosophical schools somewhere in the world who claim that there is no such thing as morality, the very organization of our driving laws, the enforcement of those laws in our towns, and the value of undying loyalty to a team that gets beat by a lower level team, demonstrate that there is already a moral consensus in American life. Even this weekend as my wife and I enjoyed the use of cable in our hotel and watched HGTV, I was struck by the two gay men on the show who talked about adopting a child. We may not all agree on what defines a family, but we do all agree family is important.
Karen Rupprecht’s earlier post suggested that there is already a possibility of moral consensus on the local level, but I would also suggest that it is possible on an even larger level if we properly understand our task. We are not attempting to create moral consensus in a vacuum. Rather, we are attempting to build upon a foundation of moral consensus to create even more consensus, building on the idea that we all agree family is important to discuss what family looks like. That is really what the founding Fathers did when they wrote the constitution, even using words like “WE believe.” The American experiment is one of moral consensus, across religious, racial, and socio-economic lines. And that moral consensus, while more divided today than in Madison’s and Washington’s day, still exists. There is hope for American agreement on many of these issues because we already agree on much of the foundation. We may not agree with how we got there, we may disagree with what team to cheer for, but we do agree with the general rules of the game and the road, and can build from there.
The challenge is still great, but at least we do already have a starting point. Whether it be Berkeley or Branson, there is already some moral commonality to build upon.