Most of us don’t live our day-to-day lives on the moral horizon. Most of us don’t consider the morals at play in our daily lives and decisions any more than we require directions to put on our clothes, or a map to get to work. The horizon only shows itself when there’s something that disrupts its inevitability, stalls its inertia, and questions its reliability in our lives. We get pushed there.
So, what happens to us when we find ourselves on a moral horizon?
We aren’t used to such clarity. We are shocked by our own deep sense of certainty.
We aren’t sure how we even arrived at having to take note of the horizon. We are stunned that its absoluteness could possibly be challenged.
We can’t comprehend what our world even means if this horizon doesn’t exist as we know it. The implications are too vast to process.
A horizon that feels so clear inside of us, but somehow comes into question by others in our society, triggers the vertigo of the person afraid of heights standing high upon a precipice (I know this well). Our heads are awash with uncertainty about our world, the odd perspective of seeing it more broadly, from above – driven in a self-reinforcing loop by the confusion and concern of why there is even uncertainty in the first place. The ground is firm beneath me. There is no question. I will die if I fall from here, breach the horizon. If I jump, I won’t fly. I know this. Why am I even thinking about it? There is no question. The moral line is clear. My position is established. And yet, this debilitating vertigo.
I want to snap out of it.
I want to buck-up in righteousness, and yet I huddle in disillusionment.
I want to be bigger than the moment, and yet feel swallowed by it.
I want to reclaim the comfort and clarity of a moral horizon that I never even have to pay attention to, the specificity of the position on the precipice, and yet it all seems dangerous and blurry.
I also realize that my vertigo is in part a result of my privilege, which only adds to the weight and the disorientation of the whole thing. I know others are forced to face moral horizons every day because of their race, gender identity, or otherwise.
I don’t have a happy ending here. I’m still standing at this horizon, head spinning, heart aching, writing to try and just make it a little clearer. Writing in hopes that I might talk myself into the clarity of the right next step. Writing to assure myself that the moral horizon does exist and to recognize and do my part such that no one has to live every day at its edge.