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I’m a telemarketer. Not really. I’m a pseudo-telemarketer.

Ok I’m actually not a telemarketer at all. HOWEVER, I am a phone recruiter for a market research company. And yesterday my employment drove me to flushing my morals down the toilet of indifference.

We’re filling a focus group for a tobacco company. I recruited people to participate in studies for a tobacco company. I helped a tobacco company. I sat there and actually aided in the success of a tobacco company.

Emily, the crusader of literature. The soldier on the war against illiteracy. The educator of children. The gleaming intellect. The girl with a moral compass screwed tighter than fancy tupper ware at the container store.

I sold tobacco and I’m very, very sorry.

There I stood, clutching the search parameter printout thing and thinking, “all I have to do is let my supervisor know that I’m morally opposed to this.” But I couldn’t bring myself to doing anything because I’m horribly afraid of confrontation.

Literature works like this too sometimes. We disregard realistic flaws because it’s part of the work and a piece of the character. We say “well it’s not a big deal that Phoebe smokes because it was the forties and they did that.”

I like my ethics nice and smug. I’ve severed myself from organized religion and, as a result, rely on my own set of cultural and societal standards to create a set of morals. Does that even make any sense? And I mean that as a self-directed rhetorical inquiry. Am I not immensely selfish by insisting that my perceptions of ethics holds any water to begin with?

I loose so much respect for people with lose morals. In characters, though, it doesn’t seem to matter. The great and almighty presence of literature diffuses how much I deplore weak ethics. I’m not so sure this is even fair. Fair to me, fair to my standards, or fair to the integrity of the work.

When the Glass family smokes incessantly, my opinion as a reader doesn’t skip a beat before accepting the habit as a result of Salinger’s time frame and rather enjoy his ability to paint such a smoke infused literary mosaic.

Even with modern works like John Green’s Looking for Alaska. The concept of drinking and smoking is a terribly pivotal theme throughout the novel.

So how do we reconcile? Authors make their small armies of characters act the way and do the things they do for a reason. Franny and Zooey (and everybody else in all the books that man ever wrote) use smoking as a rhetorical vehicle. It means something. Of course, I understand the chronological implications.

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to balance my vague relentlessness at upholding my moral standards and adjusting them on a situational basis. Books aren’t helping.

But they’re relevent, which is something that gives me a lot of joy. So far I haven’t had to scramble for a connection to books while writing any of these posts.

It isn’t looking like I’ll ever be forced to preach lies in front of a classroom. Books are relevent. They’re so wonderfully and substantially relevent.

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