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HEARTS of the CITY | Navigating the Real World

A rotating panel of experts from the worlds of philosophy, psychology and religion offer their perspective on the dilemmas that come with living in Southern California.

June 12, 1996|K. Connie Kang, Times Staff Writer

Today's question: David Kaczynski recently recounted his agonizing decision to tell authorities about his brother, Theodore John Kaczynski, as a possible suspect in the Unabomber case. Would you turn in a member of your family or a close friend if you believed he or she were involved in a crime?

Rabbi Donald Goor

Temple Judea, Tarzana

The question posed is an ancient one. In Biblical times, Cain asks: "Am I my brother's keeper?" The question is clearly rhetorical. Judaism teaches very clearly that we are responsible for our brothers--those related by blood or merely by our human bond. Such responsibility compels us to set standards and demand ethical action. While family ties are strong, we have a higher moral obligation imposed by our faith. Our moral responsibility ought to be stronger than our family ties. We are our brothers' keepers. While the decision must have been difficult, David Kaczynski did the right thing--he understood that the preservation of life is more important than loyalty to family.

Father John P. Daly

Director, Center for Asian Business, Loyola Marymount University

Americans are sometimes obsessed with the idea of loyalty to friends and family to the extent of never telling on each other when someone does something wrong. It's almost a code of conduct we learn as youngsters. Yet, moral wrong cannot be ignored; those who know have a moral responsbility to take action in some way. Courage is needed to admonish a friend or family member, then if the guilty party does not turn himself or herself in, we need to ask friends to help. Failing all else, we must go to the proper authorities. Certainly in the case of Ted Kaczinski's strange conduct with such deadly consequences, his brother acted in the only way he could.

The Rev. Ric La Paz

Pastor, Filipino Christian Church

Morality includes everything we do, say and think in our every day life. For people who believe in a supreme being, these values are drawn from their faith in the nature and character of God. Not turning in a relative or a close friend who is involved in a crime is a crime against conscience, society, the law of the land and God. Government and laws are established to keep society in the path of good and order, without which there is chaos and anarchy. David Kaczynski's decision, though agonizing, was the correct one. I would do the same, for it is the right thing to do.

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