Enough with the theory for now

I think that’s enough theory for now, don’t you? I’d be good now to see how messy ethics might play out in our interconnected, complex world, especially one suffering from COVID 19!

After all, messy ethics has to be a lived out, experienced ethic, not some theory applied off a shelf. Below is a recap of salient points of this ethic. They do not prescribe any one course of action; the truth will be found in the encounter!

Earth: the stage for messy ethics

In the meantime, stay home, physically – not socially – self isolate and let me know your thoughts. I welcome comments, ideas and challenges from all readers on the ten conditions for messy ethics (summed up below). Have I missed something? Is something not right?

Messy ethics: ten conditions

  1. Messy ethics is just that, messy: it concerns itself with the global and local; immediate, past, and future, addresses the concerns of other-than-human subjects and not just humans in a complex interconnected world.
  2. Messy ethics is focused on the liberation of all creation, making it eco-tethered.
  3. Messy ethics nurtures liberations by seeking out conversations with the larger biotic community always with the goal of reciprocity, and the method of negotiation.
  4. These communal conversations are best carried out within and among bioregions.
    • And if our goal is to include the voices and concerns of a diverse Earth community, particularly those whose expressions and anxieties are different from our own,
  5. Messy ethics requires a different understanding of, and approach to, knowing, one that is relational and humble, and inclusive of many ways of knowing alongside rational discourse, such as dance, song, intuition and poetry.
  6. Messy ethics requires a different understanding of who we are as a species: just ordinary members of the larger Earth community, learning how to live well (not better) within ecosystems and the natural economy.
    • Because of the above,
  7. The common good, a goal of messy ethics, becomes a truly universal reckoning.
  8. Messy ethics follows the principle of a preferential option for the poor, which implies putting the needs of those subjects most marginalized before the wishes of those subjects doing not so poorly (in the human world, the rich for instance).
  9. Messy ethics calls us to learn to live with the paradoxes of our existence – those puzzling aspects of death and life that we spend far too much of our time trying to escape.
    • and related to the above,
  10. Messy ethics requires the development of a spirituality of love, joy, humility, patience, forgiveness and inclusivity.


Author: Simon Appolloni

I am a writer, teacher, publisher and lover of the universe

3 thoughts on “Enough with the theory for now”

  1. The crux for me seems to revolve around the encounter. How can I learn to know and understand differently or to listen to hear the voices of a diverse Earth community if I remain where I am. What would motivate me to move out of theory and into an encounter with a reality other than my own?


  2. I’ve really enjoyed following your development of messy ethics Simon, thanks!

    The 10th point is what I find interesting – I am not an expert in ethics, but it seems that generally ethics is not linked to spirituality. I like the idea of an ethic that requires the development of a spirituality.

    In truth, Luke



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