Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Question of the Day, 60:

Am I a good person because I take my shopping carts to that little pen in the parking lot?

Shopping carts and stores present any number of moral questions that you probably haven't thought about before, but which I, and maybe Nietzsche, have spent lots of time pondering.

Everyone is supposed to put their carts in the little pen the stores put out for that purpose. But a lot of people don't; I'd say maybe a majority of people don't do that, but instead leave their carts wherever they happen to be. Which means that as far as society is concerned, not taking carts to the holding area is normal behavior. So if I take my cart back to that pen, does that make me better than most people... i.e., a good person?

And, on a related note, just how much effort does society, or goodness, demand with respect to the morality of shopping carts? I ask because of this: There's a grocery store we sometimes go to where they don't have that little pen anywhere; your options are "take the cart all the way back to the store" or "leave the cart in a random location in the parking lot." People at that store tend to choose the latter... and I do, too. My thinking is: If they don't put that pen out there for me to put the cart in, I don't have to walk the cart back; it's unreasonable to expect me to do that.

So if I'm a good person for putting my cart in the pen at one store, do I then undo that goodness by not taking the cart back to the store at that grocery store? And can morality be measured by the distance one walks to put a shopping cart somewhere?

And, finally, does it make it any better, at that grocery store, if I try to at least carefully park my cart in the parking lot, like I did last week, when I unloaded my groceries and decided (as usual) that I wasn't going to take my cart back to the store, but I took the time to put the cart neatly in between two unused parking spaces?

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