Right for You, Wrong for Me

[Content Disclosure: Morals, Ponderings, Life and 1/2% Poker]

‘Reinhold Neibuhr said, “You make a moral choice, you act, and then you ask for forgiveness.” You make the choice, because you can’t sit around hemming and hawing forever. You ask forgiveness, because, to quote Paul, “We look through a glass darkly.” What appears moral and good in our eyes may not appear good and moral in the eyes of others, even our friends. No act is absolutely moral or good, because we don’t live in a utopia where we have those absolutes.’ -- Chris Hedges

Some of my very dearest friends are passing through some tremulous periods in their lives right now. Seems like these things come in threes or sixes, depending I guess on how many really close friends you share your life deeply with. What strikes me is how many big decisions are made based on unreflected assumptions about life and for lack of any better word -- reality. Assessing reality in order to make choices about our path is made infinitely more difficult if we hold shifting beliefs about what actually constitutes ordinary reality. Therefore giving advice and counsel to others is more and less difficult based on just how much of consensual reality you share with the other person.

Obviously my friends personal struggles are not blog fodder but during my conversations over the past week, I told two personal stories as examples. In both cases I was told that I should share those stories more widely, so under the category of 'life in stories', take what you will from these.

Last year, I was leaving a Las Vegas casino either very late at night or very early in the morning, I was with my old friend Jon, we have been friends from times well before the 'poker phase' of my life. We were on a seemingly deserted floor of a big parking structure when we came around a massive concrete abutment to first hear and then see a scuffle. A women was down on the floor by a car with a man straddling her and pulling at her purse. My first thought was not "what do I do?" No, my thought was "who am I with." Jon was on my left and already moving away, widening the distance between us. "Hey!" I shouted at the guy and he turned with a knife in his hand and swung wildly. He was too far away and too drunk or drugged to be an actual threat but I still stepped back, so his knife was missed me by eight feet or more and his lunge awkwardly landed him on all fours. I stepped to the right as he tried to regain his balance and once he looked up I moved just one big step towards him. He was completely focused on the very large man moving in on him, just as I knew he would be. Never for a moment did he consider Jon nor see him and the hard sided briefcase that smacked with a loud thump on the side of his head.

I checked that our knife-wielding menace was out cold, while Jon made sure that the lady was not on the far side of a domestic dispute and about to show her love to the unconscious jackass by attacking us. But no, this was a straight robbery attempt. The lady was not interested in a police report, as she felt the authorities would be all too willing to book her too, based on some past 'evening encounters' she may have had. So we got her into her car and Jon pulled my vehicle around the front of the casino while I walked back inside to tell a security guard that someone might want to check section 4B of the parking garage for a cold cocked mugger and no, I did not wish to make a formal statement.

The moral? Well, I am happy to let you draw your own existential conclusions. I would only add that dealing with the 'reality' of this moment was clearly a function of knowing Jon and having shared certain physical insights about the nature of reality and the darkside of the same. I often leave casinos alone late at night and at those times reality can be very different.

Story #2 -- will wait until tomorrow.