When sinners do good
Sep 10, 2014-
Conscience and morality seem slippery concepts in the modern world, But who are we to judge what is good?
“Who is to say what is a sin in God’s eyes?” is one of famous movie questions. Indeed, or well said, especially after what happened in Japan a few days ago. When a group of Japanese porn actresses raised thousands of dollars by having
their breasts squeezed by donors at a charity event for Aids prevention, the “line” becomes completely blurred. Who are the sinners here? If the money does go to people who are ill, or is used to prevent people from getting ill, isn’t it actually a good deed?
An older real-life story has it that some male fans of a Western porn star pooled their money to help her after hearing she was in need of support. These were the very men who made the porn industry thrive, yet paying for “obscenity” was obviously not the only thing they did. Like the men in Japan who donated the money through touching the breasts of porn stars, the porn watchers were questionable sinners, although they could not proudly proclaim themselves as saints.
In the past, these acts must not have been as controversial. What defined “goodness” used to be clear-cut. If you were in the sex industry, the door to heaven would be firmly shut. On the other hand, killings carried out in the name of a religion were forgivable. In other words, there were little or no rooms to do something good if you were perceived as “bad”, but if you were perceived as good, you could go as far as taking lives or torturing people.
But if the past’s problem is moral rigidity, moral flexibility may be the issue of the hour. It’s apparently wrong to pay money to buy the right to touch a woman’s breasts, but is it also wrong to do that as part of a charity event? If the money is used for a good cause, and the “donor” knows how it will be used, is the “donation” sinful? Who are we to condemn the donors, especially if we haven’t donated anything to help Aids prevention?
And if we are to renounce the men who chose to donate money to charity through obscene means, what about rampant corporate activities designed to mask problems caused by “legitimate” businesses. Liquor companies have held a lot of feel-good events, organising world tournaments or sponsoring sports clinics. Insurance companies always come up with heart-warming TV commercials. And now that we are at it, even a well-known Buddhist temple is telling its followers that the more they donate to its projects, the higher up the heaven they will go after they die. This temple is probably many thousand times richer than rural ones whose roofs were built through money sent home by prostitutes.
The ice bucket challenge is a worldwide fad, much criticised for its apparent silliness but quite effective in drawing people’s attention to the spirit of sharing. What’s happened in Japan, some say, is the ice bucket challenge idea sexed up. Who says “goodness” has to exclusively involve priests or solemn atmospheres?
The Japanese “donors” may be mocked, especially when things like sexism in the country is taken into account. The porn buyers who supported a porn star who needed help may have been seen as being motivated by guilty feelings. But coming to think of it, few would want to be the first to throw stones at them. There is doing the wrong thing for the right reason and vice versa. And there are such things as goodness with a bad taste. In the end, we have two choices: Renounce the moral dilemma or embrace it.
Published: 11-09-2014 09:18