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A Decision-Making Rubric

Playing outside with the dog this morning I started thinking about how I make decisions. I grabbed the closest blank piece of paper I could find—actually the inside cover of a paperback—and started scribbling out some questions I want to ask myself before making decisions large or small. Are there questions (or full-on rubrics) you use to make ethical choices? Here is what I wrote in the back of that book. It’s a work in progress:

  1. Is it ugly, wasteful, or fraudulent? It is beautiful, nurturing, and true?
  2. Does it obscure a place?
  3. It may be good, luxurious, or convenient for me, but am I pushing the real costs onto someone or something else, including my children’s children’s children’s children?
  4. Does it promote quality and variety and conviviality?
  5. Can I trust that the producer has, or will be, fairly compensated?
  6. Does it meet the standards of protection and care for the creaturely world that have been part of the human mandate since Genesis?
  7. What effect will it have on the culture and economy of my home? of my neighborhood? of other neighborhoods?
  8. Is there a reasonable way of doing it, making it, buying it, growing it myself?
  9. What are the political consequences? Will it raise the level of public discourse? Will it improve the conversation? Does it make collaboration toward the common good more or less likely?
  10. Can I justify it to my wife in the morning? Can I justify it to my daughter in 20 years? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then how am I justifying it to myself now?
  11. Who is telling me to do or buy this thing? Can they be trusted? Should they be obeyed, questioned, or resisted outright?

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