Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Ethicist: Know-It-All

Dear Ethicist: One of the problems with going on is that you may find out things that are not necessarily beneficial. Say your first cousin once removed leaves his or her assets to be divided among surviving family members. As best as you can ascertain, you’re it. Then you go on Ancestry and find out that lo and behold you’ve got some cousins you didn’t know about who are also eligible to receive the cash. This is all hypothetical but if you didn’t go on Ancestry you wouldn’t have learned about the long-lost cousin and you wouldn’t have to divide the cash. You may wish you'd never gone on Ancestry under the theory that what you know won’t hurt you. Too much knowledge is not necessarily a good thing. Oedipus had that problem. If he hadn’t heard the oracle he wouldn’t have brought about the very thing he was afraid of. In this case, you're likely to find you’ve just complicated things. You may have had a good intention in signing up for Ancestry, but next time you’ll be more circumspect about responding to ads which offer knowledge (remember the apple?) instead being content to leave things alone.




Dear Know-It-All: First of all, who is “you?” Is “you” a thinly-veiled form of “you?” And why do you insist on using the second person pronoun? It’s not like Abracadabra where suddenly you’re going to find you have a cousin and the cousin is going to come out of the woodwork smelling the money that's owing to them. A family tree can be a joy or a Pandora’s Box. It's a two-edged sword. It’s rare that meeting up with a relative, you don’t already know is a good thing. It usually means you're going to have to start saying “no” to baptisms and brits. So what if you 're all alone in the world? You're not going to be any better learning you have cousin in Babylon.

Read Evan Harris' review of Francis Levy's Tombstone: Not a Western, The East Hampton Star

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