Altruism and consensus seem beyond our reach

Published 7:37 am Saturday, July 30, 2016

Editorial by Bobby Tingle


As a young man I searched for consensus on the important issues of life. Often those issues involved what was most important to me.

What is the best way to raise a child? That one became very import to me after my first child was born. I do not remember reading a lot of books, but I asked a lot of questions. We even invited three teenagers to our house and fed them lunch because I had questions for them. We left their parents out because I wanted unfiltered answers. These three had impressed me and I wanted to discover from them, not the parents, the secret for success in raising a child to be like these three.

They all gave different answers. There was no consensus.

Then I got interested in theology. As I began to discover the secret things of doctrine and creeds, I discovered that there were various opinions on matters. But how could that be? Didn’t theology come basically from the same source? Isn’t the bible the foundation for all doctrine of theology?

For the answers to these questions, I read books. I asked questions as well but reading seemed to be the best approach. After completing a few books, I realized that theologians did not agree. In fact, men with degrees and years of study seemed to come to polar opposite opinions after reading identical passages.

How could that be, I wondered?

As I have gotten older, I have had to accept the reality that good men often disagree.

I moved from child rearing and theology to law and morality. The Supreme Court of the United States seemed to be a good focal point to ponder morality. These were men and women chosen for their expertise in law based on their education, experience, judgments and writings. These men and women were chosen by our elected officials to ensure the Constitution of the United States was upheld and that all legislation met the standards of that document. Surely, there was a consensus of thought and intention. Isn’t the difference between right and wrong more or less self-evident?

Frankly, I think I am more disappointed in the actions of the Supreme Court of the United States than I am in theologians. When you look at the decisions of this body over the years you see some absolutely horrible decisions.

But what is even more troubling is that the decisions I see as horrible, you may applaud.

I am not hopeful that consensus will ever be achieved. I was accused of being altruistic in my young adult years. The accuser applauded my desire while cautioning me about the elusiveness of the goal. You see altruism, according to the online dictionary provided by Merriam-Webster, is the unselfish desire for the well being of others. The implication is that those altruistic intentions are followed by our actions.

I hope the discontentment many are showing in our nation does not reach the level here in Orange that we have seen in other places. Unfortunately, there may be some who wish the opposite.

We are supposed to be civil and evolving toward a higher civility. I do not see evidence of it from the mainstream news media. I hope that is just because of their bias.


Bobby Tingle is Publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at