My Moral Heroes

Posted on Thursday, August 11th, 2005 at 10:05 am by Chelsea Green Publishing

This morning I read an article about Bunnatine Greenhouse, Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It was a story about “Bunny’s” refusal to sanction Halliburton’s outrageous overcharging for everything from soda to laundry. She has publicly questioned why Halliburton is awarded over 50 percent of the contracts for rebuilding Iraq without any competitive bidding. Her high-level job mandates that she get the best prices for the best quality she can find, but she has been consistently overruled in her pursuit of that goal. Bunny Greenhouse is a person who believes in doing the right thing and for that she has been demoted and sidelined by her superiors.
This is not a new story, but something about Bunny’s role in it made me think about the meaning of morality. I don’t think it means the same thing to me as it does to those in power.

Bunny is a staunch defender of “doing the right thing”. She was charged with doing a job that if done correctly and fairly would benefit everyone. As she said, “I have never gone along to get along.” She’s a moral hero. But our culture and our leaders don’t include that in their definition of morality. Their “morality” revolves almost exclusively around the judgement of sexual mores. They have made the private public and the public private, meddling in the private affairs of individuals while privatizing what should be benefiting the public good, and they have done this for their own enrichment. Worse, they’ve led the public down this dangerous path; too many are willing to “go along to get along” and too few have the courage to stand up and say no.

My moral heroes, like Bunny Greenhouse and Diane Wilson, are those that know the right thing always benefits the common good, not just a select few. They know that if we weren’t trading the welfare of one group for the benefit of another and that if we operated on a truly moral basis, there would be no want in the world, there would be no war.

My moral heroes stand up and express their outrage at injustice, whatever the personal cost. They tell the truth. They are whistleblowers. We need more moral heroes, and we all need to be moral heroes.

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