Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Ethical Dilemma - Part II

Ethical dilemmas are supposed to provoke one into thinking more deeply about what motivates us towards one course of action rather than another. The essence lies in the principle taking precedence over one's own personal desires. So, why am I racing tomorrow? Initially my justification was economic - races are expensive etc etc. But more truthfully, the real reason can be found in Siena, Italy.
When we were living in Italy, I used to run with a very competitive club, and though I liked everyone in the club, I never really enjoyed running. I constantly felt under pressure to score points for my club, and that sucked the enjoyment out of running for me. In Tuscany, races are tabled in a regional register, and each club is ranked according to how many members participate in a race, their position, overall distance and so on.
I was never very good (i.e. fast), and never won anything. One Summer I became friendly with Roxy, a Canadian woman studying glass design in Siena. I introduced her to running and to the club, and soon we were spending long pleasurable hours running both in the Medici Fortress in  Siena and around the Tuscan countryside. We became very good friends, and still are today. A big regional competition came up at the end of Summer, and I was ready to win the trophy in my division (yes a proper award!).
The only problem was - Roxy. She was in my category and she was faster than me. I could beat the other people in my category as I had done so pretty consistently that year in other races. Roxy was the one to beat, and I doubted very much that I could catch her. Of course, all I needed to do to win, was not to invite her to the race, but that was never ever an option. So I invited her. She came, she ran, and she got the trophy.
Naturally I was happy for my friend, and of course I was disappointed for myself. I thought about this episode earlier in the week. It would have been morally reprehensible for me not to have told a dear friend about the race, knowing full well that she would win. I also knew then that it would be a long long time before I might be in a position to win anything, but therein lies the bittersweet joy of running.
I am racing tomorrow because the ethical dilemma arises from divergent political beliefs. Still, I am prepared to give the organisers the benefit of the doubt, as I am unsure whether they even realise the implications of their tee design. So, I shall write to them, and let's see if and how they respond.

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